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)

The REAL ID law 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.

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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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 13:37
  • Oops, "extra agreement" in the previous comment should be "extra screening." Blasted autocorrect.
    – phoog
    Jan 24, 2019 at 16:26

2 Answers 2


Update December 5, 2022:

The deadline has been extended once again, until May 7, 2025.

Update April 29, 2021:

The deadline has again been extended, this time to May 3, 2023. Thanks to user102008 for bringing this to my attention.

Update March 27, 2020:

To reduce the need for people to go to DMV offices during the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline of October 1, 2020 has been postponed until October 1, 2021. Thanks to choster for linking to an initial report by Bloomberg News.

Several news organizations have been reporting the new deadline at least since yesterday evening. An official press release from the acting Secretary of Homeland Security is dated yesterday, March 26 2020.

The page quoted below has now been updated, as have the quotes themselves. I've also adjusted the answer to account for the fact that Pennsylvania is now compliant with Real ID rather than being on an extension.

Have a look at https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs:

Q: When will I need to change how I travel domestically?

Beginning May 3, 2023 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. The card, itself, must be REAL ID compliant unless the resident is using an alternative acceptable document such as a passport or passport card, or state-issued Enhanced Driver’s License. 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 (such as a U.S. passport or passport card).

You can use a Pennsylvania-issued document (license or ID card), even if the document is not compliant, through May 2, 2023. 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 is compliant. You can choose Pennsylvania in the "select a state" box below the map to see the details:

Pennsylvania is compliant with the REAL ID Act. Federal agencies can accept driver's licenses and identification cards from Pennsylvania at Federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

On or after May 3, 2023, you'll need a Real-ID-compliant driver's license or your passport (or another document from the TSA list, if you have one).

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    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, 2019 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, 2019 at 21:05
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    p.s. it has been postponed again to May 3, 2023
    – user102008
    Apr 29, 2021 at 7:16
  • @user102008 I suspect it will never be put in place unless all states start issuing Real-ID by default. Too many US citizens won't have one in the foreseeable future.
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 29, 2021 at 18:16
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    @JonathanReez: But some people can't get REAL ID documents, e.g. nonimmigrants without EAD who are in status but whose visa has expired (or who are Canadians and therefore don't have visas), since REAL ID requires either green card, EAD, or foreign passport with valid status and valid visa. It would be unreasonable for such a nonimmigrant in legal status to not be able to get a state driver's license.
    – user102008
    Apr 29, 2021 at 21:45

No, but soon you will need to update your drivers license to a READ ID compliant one

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020 2021, 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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