This month I'll be flying twice within the United States. I am a US citizen with a valid drivers license, flying within US boundaries. Is this sufficient to fly? I haven't held a valid passport for over 12 years and am uncertain of the flying restrictions in this day and age. Will I be OK to fly without my Passport?

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    While the percentage of US citizens having a passport has gone up to 37% in recent years, there are about 30,000 commercial passenger flights per day in the US. Well that's as far as I could get with the numbers but I think there's a lot more people on internal flights than people with passports... Oct 8, 2011 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


You don't need a passport to fly within the US. As long as you have your driver's license, that is enough to get you through TSA check points. It's when you travel outside the US that you will need your passport.

Here's a list of acceptable IDs from the official TSA website: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/acceptable-ids

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    out of interest, what do you do if you don't have a driver's license?
    – e100
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:55
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    @e100: You can get a state ID card from the same state agency that issues driver's licenses. It is basically just like a driver's license for ID purposes, except that it doesn't permit you to drive (and of course you don't have to pass a driving test to get it). This is what most non-drivers do; the driver's license is more or less a de facto national ID card and it is pretty hard to survive without it or an equivalent. Apr 27, 2012 at 14:26
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    @e100 here is a complete list of acceptable ids and alternatives to photo ids from the TSA website: tsa.gov/traveler-information/acceptable-ids
    – Abe
    Jan 3, 2013 at 4:01
  • It is also possible to travel without an ID from the list. My wife did it once, forgetting her passport for a domestic flight and having no US driver's license.
    – phoog
    Jun 26, 2015 at 17:08
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    This answer stops being correct on January 22, 2018 see my answer here for more details Nov 24, 2017 at 17:54

The main changes since the last time you flew involve all those other places that used to not require a passport. e.g. Whereas previously it was possible to visit Canada or Mexico with just a driver's license, you now need a passport.

Within the US, AtlasRN is 100% correct. Your driver's license will be sufficient. What you will find different these days is the amount of security checks, scans and restrictions. You will be wise to wear shoes that are easy to remove, read up on the restrictions for carrying liquids in your carry-on bags, carry electronics (especially laptops) in a bag that makes them easy to remove, and allow extra time for getting through security.

  • The opposite is also true for Canadians visiting the US, though we can pass the border with an enhanced driver's license.
    – blackbird
    Jun 26, 2015 at 14:23

Beginning October 10, 2018 A driver's license from a State that does not meet "Real ID" requirements is not sufficient to fly between destinations in the US.

Before you fly, check your drivers' license. "REAL ID"-compliant driver's licenses are indicated by the presence of a star:

REAL-ID compliant driver's license

If your ID does not have this star:

1.Check your state’s status: You can check if your state is REAL ID compliant at dhs.gov/real-id-enforcement-brief. Beginning January 22, 2018, travelers from non-compliant states will not be able to use their driver’s licenses or state IDs at TSA checkpoints, unless the state received an extension to comply. Source (PDF)

Currently (November 2017) only about half of US States have compliant licenses. There are a few other acceptable options but for most people a Passport is the most likely choice, and the Passport card being the most cost effective for domestic travel only.

Beginning October 1, 2020, even if your State is compliant, your driver's license needs to be compliant (you might need to renew it). Be sure to ask specifically for the REAL-ID compliant ID.

Before your trip to the DMV, you'll need to gather a few documents to prove your identity and residence in your state. Check your state's DMV Website for more information.

The list of compliant States is can be viewed at https://www.dhs.gov/real-id#

Currently all States and Territories are either compliant or have an extension, except American Samoa. Those extensions expire October 10, 2018, at which point your driver's license may not be sufficient

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    A passport card is a cheaper option for someone who doesn't need a full passport. (You can't use it for international air travel, though.) travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/…
    – PersonX
    Nov 25, 2017 at 4:13
  • @PersonX good point, answer updated Nov 25, 2017 at 11:30
  • Edited to add that as of February 14, 2018, American Samoa is in non-compliant status, without extension.
    – CGCampbell
    Feb 14, 2018 at 19:37
  • Reposting this comment because the earlier version was poorly edited: Enhanced licenses are sufficient, regardless of when they were issued or by what state. At least one of the five states that issue them, New York, gives drivers who renew or replace a non-enhanced license the option for the new license to be noncompliant with Real ID; this allows them to renew the license without having to visit the office in person, provided they do not care about Real ID compliance. New York's enhanced license also costs $30 more than a regular one, so it's as cost effective as a passport card.
    – phoog
    Feb 14, 2018 at 20:09

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