Phone charger? Check.
The right identification?
Make sure to add that to your packing list as you get ready to resume traveling, post-pandemic.
The REAL ID Act goes into effect nationwide on May 3, 2023. From that date forward, standard Washington driver’s licenses and IDs will no longer be valid for domestic air travel, at U.S. border crossings, or to access certain federal facilities. That means you have just about a year to make sure you have—or get—the right kind of ID for your trip.
If you’re planning on traveling by air, you may need an enhanced driver’s license (EDL), U.S. passport, or alternate forms of identification such as a foreign passport, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766), or a Permanent Resident Card (I-551). You may already have what you need. To see if you’re ready, take the ID2023 quiz.
This all may sound familiar, as the REAL ID deadline was originally in 2020. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington State Department of Licensing offices were at limited capacity for a significant amount of time,” said Teresa Berntsen, DOL’s director. “This was the case with licensing agencies across the country, leading to the federal government extending the deadline. DOL has reopened most offices and is ready to issue enhanced licenses and IDs to all state residents who qualify.”
Getting an EDL requires a visit to a driver licensing office. DOL encourages applicants to make an appointment to avoid long lines and waiting times. However, getting an appointment at your desired office may take up to a month, and once your application is approved it could take a couple of weeks to receive your card. So residents who need an enhanced license or ID shouldn’t wait until the last minute.
“A year may sound like a long time, but we recommend that you don’t wait until the deadline gets closer or until just before a trip to make sure you have the right ID to travel,” Berntsen said. “You don’t want to plan that perfect vacation without knowing that everybody is prepared.”
A standard driver’s license or ID will still be good for other forms of U.S. travel, such as driving or riding a train. Newly issued standard licenses will bear the marking “Federal Limits Apply” to indicate they are not REAL ID compliant.
Visit DOL’s ID2023 website to learn more.