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I am a resident of Pennsylvania (I have a PA drivers license) and I do not have my passport. I am taking a flight from Ohio to California in March. Do I need my passport for this flight? (Or for the return flight)

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    @brhans the question is reasonable given the confusion that abounds around the confusing Real ID requirements for identification, which also apply to domestic travel. – phoog Jan 23 at 19:36
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    Yes, the real ID is the issue. I know PA is late to the game in their real ID licenses, so there was supposedly a law that until we get those, we would need a passport to fly domestically. But I’ve also heard that the law was postponed so I’m not sure what the current status is. – Jon F Jan 23 at 19:47
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    Fun fact - most state issued CCW permits are REAL ID compliant. Plan on extra time going through security/boarding if that is the only ID you have though :) – ivanivan Jan 24 at 0:37
  • @ivanivan Real ID concerns only driver's licenses and DMV-issued ID cards, so a concealed carry weapons permit is compliant in the same sense in which a library card is compliant. The extra agreement is necessary because weapons permits are explicitly excluded from the list of acceptable ID ("A weapon permit is not an acceptable form of identification"). This puts them in the same category as credit cards and school IDs. – phoog Jan 24 at 13:37
  • Oops, "extra agreement" in the previous comment should be "extra screening." Blasted autocorrect. – phoog Jan 24 at 16:26
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Have a look at https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs:

Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver's licenses issued by a state that is not yet compliant with REAL ID and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Please see TSA's website for a list of acceptable forms of identification. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is compliant or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual. For a list of states already in compliance or with an extension visit DHS's REAL ID webpage. DHS continually updates this list as more states come into compliance or obtain extensions.

Starting October 1, 2020, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID compliant license/ID, or another acceptable form of identification, for accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding commercial aircraft. This is what we call “card-based” enforcement. The card, itself, must be REAL ID compliant unless the resident is using an alternative acceptable document such as a passport. The Act does not require individuals to present identification where it is not currently required to access a Federal facility (such as to enter the public areas of the Smithsonian) nor does it prohibit an agency from accepting other forms of identity documents other than documents from non-compliant states (such as a U.S. passport or passport card).

If Pennsylvania is compliant (or has an extension), therefore, you can use a Pennsylvania-issued document (license or ID card), even if the document is not compliant, through September 30, 2020. After that, you'd need a compliant document or one issued by the federal government (for example, a passport or passport card).

Is Pennsylvania compliant? Does it have an extension? See the main Real ID page at https://www.dhs.gov/real-id, which shows a map indicating that Pennsylvania has an extension. You can choose Pennsylvania in the "select a state" box below the map to see the details:

Pennsylvania has an extension for REAL ID enforcement, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver's licenses and identification cards from Pennsylvania at Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft until August 1, 2019.

If you are flying between August 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, therefore, you'll want to check that page again, and decide whether to bring your passport based on what you find. Or you can just upgrade to a Real ID license now if you prefer, and not have to worry about any of this.

After October 1, 2020, you'll need a Real-ID-compliant driver's license or your passport (or another document from the TSA list, if you have one).

  • Every single state is currently either compliant or has an extension, so I'm not sure if checking the map is at all useful :) – JonathanReez Jan 23 at 21:03
  • @JonathanReez it's useful if you want to know whether a given state's documents will be accepted through the end of next September. For states with extensions (including Pennsylvania), you have to look at when the extension expires, and you have to check again around that time to see how the state's status has changed. – phoog Jan 23 at 21:05
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No, but soon you will need to update your drivers license to a READ ID compliant one

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.

Pennsylvania does have a REAL ID drivers license. Your passport is also an acceptable REAL ID identification, but it is not required for domestic flights.

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