If you live in Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire or New York, get ready to show your passport if you want to fly next year – even if you’re not leaving the country.
That’s because your state’s one of the four that have yet to comply with stricter standards for state-issued identification, such as driver’s licenses. The federal rule has been in place for a decade, and the deadline for compliance comes up in 2016.
You may also run into problems elsewhere, too. People with New Hampshire driver’s licenses have already found themselves being turned away from federal buildings in Washington, say state officials.
Following recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, President Bush signed into law the REAL ID Act in 2005. It was designed to make it more difficult for criminals to obtain fake identification.
The REAL ID Act forces US states and territories to demand more proof of identity when issuing IDs, such as a verified original copy of a person’s birth certificate. And it improves the degree of technology built into government-issued cards.
So what’s the holdup?
Back when the law was passed, there was some fear that the government would use new IDs to create a national citizen database, which would in turn lead to greater invasion of privacy. Others suspected that the feds were attempting to take over the ID-issuing process entirely. And another criticism – later found to have no basis in fact – was that the new cards would contain a chip that transmitted data wirelessly and could therefore be hacked easily. New Hampshire and Minnesota passed laws explicitly prohibiting compliance with the law, while New York and Louisiana simply did nothing.
Now, as the deadline looms, things are happening. New York was granted a waiver for the time being, so residents can still use their driver’s licenses for identification. Louisiana’s deadline for compliance has been deferred until October 10, 2016. And New Hampshire has until June 1, 2016, while the subject is being debated in the state legislature.
New Hampshire DMV Director Richard C. Bailey told CNNMoney that he’s still worried.
“The outlook for a REAL ID license in New Hampshire is much brighter today than six months ago, but it’s still not a guarantee,” he said. “It’s a real concern for me. I don’t want to be talking to people like you that Sally couldn’t go to Disney World because mommy couldn’t get on an airplane.”
So far, there’s been no request for an extension by Minnesota.
“As soon as January 2016, Minnesotans may not be allowed to board federally-regulated commercial aircraft using a Minnesota driver license or ID card,” the state’s public safety department told CNNMoney.