New enforcement of an old law by the Department of Homeland Security might make life difficult for some travelers in the coming years. The Real ID Act from 2005 compels states to beef up security on driver's licenses, but only 22 states and Washington, D.C. currently comply with the law. It's possible that the Transportation Security Administration could only accept these more secure IDs for those taking flights at some point in 2016 or beyond.

A recently updated DHS list (below) shows that the agency could enforce the law against the IDs from Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Washington beginning on January 10, 2016. Minnesota's licenses are already noncompliant, too. Most other states have a waiver well into next year. The government agency will decide whether to grant an extension to California and territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, by January 10.

Folks from noncompliant locations don't need to worry yet because the DHS and TSA don't have a start date for Real ID enforcement for travelers. The government promises online to give at least 120-days notice before implementation would begin. Afterward, fliers from places that don't adhere to the law would likely need additional ID to travel. However, the Real ID Act puts responsibility on states to comply, not individuals, so you probably don't have to worry about running out to get a new license if your state's status changes. According to the DHS FAQ, military bases and Federal facilities require Real ID-compliant identification as of October 10, 2015.
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Current Status of States/Territories

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress, that will implement the Act in a measured, fair, and responsible way.

Noncompliant States/Territories
  • Am.Samoa
  • Minnesota+
+ Federal officials may continue to accept Enhanced Driver's Licenses from these states.

Compliant/Extension States/Territories

The following states/territories are compliant with the REAL ID Act:
  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • DC
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • S. Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The following states/territories have an extension, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver's licenses from these states until October 10, 2016:
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • N. Carolina
  • N. Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • S. Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

The following states/territories have an extension, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver's licenses from these states, until June 1, 2016.
  • New Hampshire

The following states/territories are under review for an extension renewal, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver's licenses from these states, until at least January 10, 2016 under a grace period.
  • California
  • Guam
  • N. Marianas
  • Puerto Rico
  • Virgin Islands

The following states/territories have not received an extension for 2016 and will be subject to enforcement beginning Jan. 10, 2016.
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Washington

Last Published Date: December 29, 2015

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