Still need a REAL ID? Countdown is on to new deadline

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The countdown is on...again.

The clock is ticking as millions of Americans will need a Real ID to access federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants and military bases, and board domestic commercial flights beginning Oct. 1, 2021.

If you don't have a REAL ID by the deadline, you'll need another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport, to board a domestic flight.

The changes were to take effect Oct. 1, 2020 but were pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"States have been working on this for several years, dating back to 2006, 2007," said Mark Howell, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

A REAL ID is designed to be tougher to forge. It was recommended by the 9/11 commission.

Depending on the state, the card has a gold star or black star in the corner, which is easily spotted by TSA agents. It indicates the traveler is REAL ID-compliant.

"We want to make sure that those security features are there so we know the folks getting on airplanes are who they are," Howell said.
To obtain a REAL ID, applicants must provide one document proving identity, one document proving their social security number, two documents proving residency and one document proving a signature. Specific requirements may vary by state.

"If you don't fly that often and you do not want to get the REAL ID, which is optional in Pennsylvania, you can certainly travel with your passport domestically but so many of us have become used the convenience of just using a driver's license," said Jana Tidwell with AAA.

Those Action News talked to appreciate the extra time and say instead of waiting, they wanted to get the process out of the way.

"To be quite honest, there's not really much of an advantage because I already have a passport but knowing that I will be able to travel domestically without a passport is just a minor bump I guess," said Wendell Jones.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has resumed issuing REAL IDs at reopened Driver License Centers offering driver license services, following suspending the issuing REAL IDs throughout the state in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

REAL ID is optional in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and residents who want a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or photo ID card can once again apply for one ahead of the October 2021 federal enforcement date.

AAA travel experts say despite the extended deadline, don't wait until the last minute. Also, keep in mind if you've purchased an airline ticket and rescheduled a trip for next year. The name on the ticket has to reflect the name on your REAL ID.

"How has the airline ticket been booked? In what name? Anybody who is going through any sort of name change, a marriage, a divorce, the airlines will not reissue your airline ticket to accommodate a name change," said Tidwell.
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