1 year left! Washington residents will need REAL ID-compliant identification to fly starting October 2020

October 1, 2019

ID laws for air travel are changing in 2020With the REAL ID enforcement deadline only a year away, officials with the Washington State Department of Licensing, Sea-Tac and Spokane international airports, and the Transportation Security Administration are urging Washington residents to act soon to ensure they will be ready to fly.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, travelers 18 years and older will need a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to board a commercial flight.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005. It enacted a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission that set minimum security standards for state-issued driver licenses and identification cards. The legislation further barred federal agencies, including the TSA, from accepting state-issued driver licenses or ID cards that do not meet the minimum standards.

Now is the time to plan ahead and be ready for REAL ID requirements. Do not wait.

“We want Washington residents to be ready, and this is a reminder you have one year to look at your identity document options and determine which one best fits your lifestyle,” said Teresa Berntsen, DOL director. “You may already have the travel ID you need if you have one of many REAL ID-compliant documents, including Washington’s enhanced driver license or ID card. We strongly encourage our residents not to wait and get prepared now.”

Travelers can show any REAL ID-compliant identification at the TSA security checkpoint. TSA maintains a full list of acceptable forms of identification. A variety of identity documents will be accepted to board an airplane or enter secure federal facilities, including:

  • U.S. or foreign passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • Military ID
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Enhanced driver license
  • Tribal ID
  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential

“TSA accepts more than driver licenses at the security checkpoint as a form of photo identification, so some travelers may already have an acceptable alternate form of ID,” said Deputy Federal Security Director for Washington Chris Baden. “With pending federal enforcement of REAL ID requirements, TSA encourages state residents to take a few minutes to decide what photo identification you plan to use for travel on Oct. 1, 2020 and beyond. A year from today, TSA officers will not be permitted to grant access to the security checkpoint unless the traveler has a REAL ID-compliant form of identification.”

Washington’s enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID (EIDs) cards are REAL ID compliant, valid for air travel within the United States, and can be used to cross the borders of Canada and Mexico by land or sea. Some commonly needed documents to get an EDL/EID are certified birth certificate, U.S. passport, or military ID. A full list of document options to obtain an enhanced driver license or ID card is available on the DOL website.

Signs are posted at airports nationwide reminding the public that REAL ID enforcement is coming soon.

“Our priority is the customer experience for travelers at Sea-Tac Airport, but this is also about airports throughout the state of Washington and U.S.,” said Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director Lance Lyttle. “We are working together with DOL and TSA now to educate the public about REAL ID to ensure our passengers aren’t unpleasantly surprised in October next year.”

Demand for enhanced licenses and IDs will only increase as the deadline nears. By acting now to obtain the ID you need or to renew your license early, you can save yourself time and frustration later – both at DOL offices and at the airport.

“We are working closely with our partners at the Department of Licensing and TSA to make sure that Washington state residents are prepared for the full implementation of REAL ID as related to air travel,” said Larry Krauter, Spokane International Airport CEO. “We want to ensure a smooth transition over the next year so that we avoid serious disruptions to travel plans, particularly during the busy 2020 holiday travel season. Given our substantial growth, our screening checkpoints are challenged when everything is going well, and we want to avoid passengers being turned away at the checkpoints because they do not have a REAL ID-compliant license or other alternative like a U.S. passport.”

REAL ID is intended to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and ID cards while inhibiting the ability of terrorists and others to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.

More information and frequently asked questions about REAL ID can be found at the TSA website. Washington state residents can also learn more at the ID2020 website.


Media Advisory: REAL ID briefing Oct. 1 at Sea-Tac International Airport

September 30, 2019

DOL logoMedia Advisory—For Immediate Release

Sept. 27, 2019

Contact: Kate Hudson, Sea-Tac Airport, (206) 797-4362, Hudson.k@portseattle.org

Contact: Christine Anthony, DOL, (360) 902-3616, canthony@dol.wa.gov

ADVISORY: REAL ID enforcement starts in one year, and Sea-Tac International Airport, Department of Licensing, and Transportation Security Administration want to make sure Washington residents are ready

Representatives from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington State Department of Licensing, and the federal Transportation Security Administration will host a media briefing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, to talk about REAL ID enforcement one year away.

This will be an opportunity for media to ask questions about what residents need to know before REAL ID enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020, and what action, if any, they need to take to make sure they have the documents they will need for air travel.

  • Date: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1
  • Location: Sea-Tac International Airport breezeway in front of TSA Checkpoint 3 (between the American Airlines and Southwest Airlines ticket counters)
  • Speakers: Lance Lyttle, Managing Director, Aviation Division, Port of Seattle; Teresa Berntsen, Director, Department of Licensing; Chris Baden, Deputy Federal Security Director for Washington, Transportation Security Administration

Media Advisory: REAL ID briefing Sept. 30 at Spokane International Airport

September 26, 2019

DOL logoMedia Advisory—For Immediate Release

Sept. 26, 2019

Contact: Todd Woodard, Spokane International Airport, (509) 998-7265

Contact: Christine Anthony, DOL, (360) 902-3616, canthony@dol.wa.gov

ADVISORY: REAL ID enforcement starts in one year, and the Spokane International Airport, Department of Licensing, and Transportation Security Administration want to make sure Washington residents are ready

Representatives from the Spokane International Airport, Washington State Department of Licensing, and the federal Transportation Security Administration will host a media briefing at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30 to talk about REAL ID enforcement one year away.

This is an opportunity for media to ask questions about what residents need to know before REAL ID enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020, and what action, if any, they must take to ensure they have the documents they will need for air travel.

  • Date: 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30
  • Location: Spokane International Airport. Meet near airline ticket counters, adjacent to ramp leading to the A/B security checkpoint.
  • Speakers: Larry Krauter, CEO, Spokane International Airport; Teresa Berntsen, Director, Department of Licensing; Lorie Dankers, Transportation Security Administration

REAL ID rush is coming: Avoid the crowds by renewing up to a year early

September 12, 2019

Did you know you can renew your Washington state driver license or ID card up to a year before it expires?

If you’re considering it, now’s the time to act. Licensing service offices tend to be less busy from September through April. And next year is no ordinary year.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID Act goes into effect. Under this federal law, standard driver licenses and IDs will no longer be valid for the purposes of flying or accessing facilities such as military bases. Washington residents have several options for acceptable identification, including an enhanced driver license (EDL) or enhanced ID (EID).

A resident’s first EDL or EID can’t be obtained without visiting an office. Thus, the Department of Licensing expects a significant surge of in-person transactions as REAL ID enforcement draws closer.

This will inevitably lead to longer lines and wait times, but you can avoid the crowds by renewing early. Many customers can renew online. If you need to come in, choose any office.

Whatever you do, don’t delay. Our offices are only going to get busier as October 2020 approaches, and nobody likes sitting in traffic.

Even if you’ve been putting it off, it’s not too late to save yourself some time and trouble. If your license or ID is expired 60 days or less, there’s no late fee to renew (though you could be penalized by law enforcement). If your license is expired over 60 days, the late fee is $10.

Learn more about REAL ID.


Public hearings set for August on ‘X’ gender option on driver licenses, ID cards

July 31, 2019

X gender driver licenseWashington residents who identify as neither male nor female will soon have the option of listing “X” as their gender on state-issued driver licenses, instruction permits, and ID cards.

But before the change takes effect — possibly as soon as October — the Department of Licensing plans to solicit feedback from the public regarding proposed rule language. Input from the hearings, along with emails and phone calls, will be used to determine if rule wording should be edited.

Join us at any of the following hearings:

Aug. 12, 2019 – 5 p.m.
Seattle Public Library
1000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Aug. 13, 2019 – 5 p.m.
Washington State Capitol, Columbia Room
416 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
Olympia, WA 98504

Aug. 15, 2019 – 4 p.m.
Spokane Public Library
3324 South Perry Street
Spokane, WA 99203

If you have questions or need a reasonable accommodation for a hearing, please email rulescoordinator@dol.wa.gov, call 360-902-3846, or send your request by mail to P.O. Box 9020, Olympia, WA 98507.

If you can’t attend a hearing, you can still be heard. Submit a comment online.

Listening sessions were held in June in Seattle and Spokane to gather public sentiment on providing a third gender option. Insights from those sessions were used in drafting rule language.

The move to allow a non-binary designation on driver licenses and ID cards comes more than a year and a half after a similar rule change was enacted by the state Department of Health. As of January 2018, people born in Washington can change their sex designation on their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity.

Adding an “X” gender designation won’t affect the validity of identification used to comply with the REAL ID Act when enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020.


Downtown Seattle licensing service office is moving to a new location starting July 30

July 22, 2019

DOL logoSeattle is growing, and we’re growing along with it.

Effective Tuesday, July 30, our downtown Seattle licensing service office will be housed in a new location:

450 3rd Ave W, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119

July 26 is the last day at the Spring Street office.

Although the new office will normally be open on Mondays, it will be closed July 29 so we can install and test new cameras, finish office setup, and acclimate staff. We’ll be ready to serve the public the following day.

With nearly double the space of the Spring Street office, the new location on 3rd Avenue will help with customer flow and provide a more comfortable environment for visitors and staff. The addition of three work counters, cameras at each workstation, and other updated equipment and software will also help us more effectively meet customer needs.

The change of address won’t affect hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Motorcycle drivers must have liability insurance under new law that goes into effect July 28

July 18, 2019

Consider this your 10-day warning, motorcycle drivers. As of July 28, 2019, you will no longer be exempt from Washington state’s mandatory auto insurance law.

Under a bill signed into law earlier this year, motorcycle drivers must obtain liability coverage and carry proof of insurance – long required of other motorists.

If you operate a motorcycle or other vehicle without the required insurance, you could be cited for a traffic infraction and receive a hefty fine. Further, if you’re at fault in a collision and you don’t have insurance, your license may be suspended if you fail to pay the resulting damages and/or injuries.

Operators of motorcycles or other vehicles required to be registered in Washington must act on one of the following four options:

1. Carry liability insurance with liability limits of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death to another person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all other people
  • $10,000 for damage to another person’s property

2. Apply for a certificate of deposit to pay for your liability insurance

3. Have a liability bond of at least $60,000 filed by a surety bond company that is authorized to do business in Washington

4. Self-insure if you have 26 or more vehicles

Get details at the Department of Licensing website.

Exceptions to the new law:

  • Motor scooters and mopeds
  • Horseless carriage vehicles over 40 years old
  • State or publicly owned vehicles
  • Common or contract carriers with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

When you drive a vehicle in Washington that is required to be registered in another state, you must have the type of insurance required by that state. You must also be able to provide proof of this insurance to law enforcement if requested.

Find more information at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner website. There, you can browse licensed agents and brokers and check the status of their license.