Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Real ID Law: Passport Required for US Interstate Travel

Driver’s licenses issued by states not compliant with Real ID will soon not be accepted for people boarding domestic commercial flights, or to get past the front door of your local local Social Security office, or other federal buildings.

Starting in 2016, travelers from the states of New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and the American Samoa will not be able to use their driver’s licenses as ID to board domestic flights because those states are “non-compliant” with the security standards outlined in the Real ID Act of 2005, which the U.S. government has been slowly implementing for the past decade.

On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 (H.R. 1268, P.L. 109-13), which included the “Real ID Act of 2005.” The Real ID Act of 2005 mandates that all fifty states must follow specific security, authentication, and issuance regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in issuing driver's license and personal identification cards. In 2006, DHS estimated the cost of implementation at $23.1 billion over 10 years, of which $14 billion are costs to states.

To be compliant with the Real ID federal law, a state must require applicants for first time driver's license or ID card issuance, and renewal of driver's license and ID issuance for those issued before the state implemented Real ID procedures, to prove five items of fact (full legal name, birth date, citizenship or immigration status, social security number, and proof of permanent residence address of at least 30 days) in person at their state driver's license office. Title II of the Real ID law lists these documents as satisfying the items of fact requirements:
  • State certified original or copy of a birth certificate (not just a hospital issued birth record), or
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or
  • Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS, or
  • Certificate of Citizenship, or
  •  US Passport
  • Social Security Card or other proof of social security number and
  • Two documents that show a principal residence address, such as a bank statement and a utility bill.
For cases where person's current name and the name on the primary identity document(s) are different, first time and renewing applicants must also present:
  • Court ordered name change document, and/or
  • Certified original or copy of all marriage certificates, issued by the courts, and/or
  • Certified original or copy of all divorce decrees, issued by the courts.
In all cases, ID applicants must show a clear trail of name changes originating with the birth name to the current name. This requirement places a disproportionate burden on women who commonly take the last name of their husbands at the time of their marriage, and therefore must show their certified marriage certificate along with the other required ID. Women who have been married more than once must produce all marriage certificates and all divorce decrees.

To obtain a state certified copy of a birth certificate most state vital records departments require the person requesting their birth certificate to show identification like a driver's license or personal ID card. The catch-22 of this is that people who do not hold a driver's license or personal ID card can't obtain a copy of their state certified birth certificate -- so they can't obtain a driver's license, personal ID card or election identification certificate.

All states and territories except New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and the American Samoa have implemented these Real ID procedures for issuing driver's licenses and ID cards, or have received an exemption. Twenty-four states, in addition to Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands, have an exemption, meaning federal agencies can accept driver’s licenses from the states and territories. Twenty-two states, plus the District of Columbia, are in compliance, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Provisions of the Real ID law allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary direct how and when states implement those proof of identity provisions. The law originally required states to be compliant by December 31, 2009, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano extended that compliance date to 2010 and then 2011 to allow states time to implement compliance procedures and computer systems. 

On March 4, 2011, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano extended by 20 months (to January 15, 2013) the May 10, 2011 deadline for states to be in full compliance with the federal Real ID regulations. On December 20, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security issued a press release announcing that beginning on Jan. 15, 2013, those states that are not in compliance with the REAL ID standards will receive a temporary deferment of enforcement, of at least six months, during which Federal agencies will continue to accept state-issued drivers licenses and identification cards from those states for boarding commercial aircraft and other official purposes. On Oct. 29, 2013, DHS announced that phased in enforcement of the REAL ID Act would begin on January 20, 2014.

Phase Location Enforcement Date
Phase 1 Restricted areas (i.e., areas accessible by agency personnel, contractors, and their guests) for DHS headquarters in Washington April 21, 2014
Phase 2 Restricted areas for all Federal facilities & nuclear power plants July 21, 2014
Phase 3 Semi-restricted areas (i.e., areas available to the general public but subject to ID-based access control) for most Federal facilities January 19, 2015
3a Facility Security Levels 1 and 2 January 19, 2015
3b Facility Security Levels 3, 4, and 5, and  military facilities October 10, 2015
Phase 4 Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft - A driver’s license or identification card from a noncompliant state may only be used in conjunction with a second form of ID for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft No sooner than 2016

All 245 million driver's license and identification card holders in the U.S. will be required to make an in-person visit to their state driver's license office in order to obtain a Real-ID compliant license by October 1, 2020. On December 29, 2014 DHS announced that residents who currently use a non-compliant license or identification card issued from a state who is now in compliance with REAL ID requirements will have until October 1, 2020 before they must present their five items of identity fact at their state driver's license office. The previous deadline was December 1, 2014 for those born after 1964 and December 1, 2017 for those born before.

Homeless veterans, battered women seeking safety, people thrown out of their homes by bank foreclosure, and others who have unexpectedly fallen on hard times and are temporarily living with relatives or in shelters or out of the trunk of their car (if they are lucky enough to still have a car) will have difficulty obtaining and renewing a Real ID driver's license because of that law's "documented proof of permanent residency" requirement.
As of May 2012, Texas partially implemented provisions of the REAL ID Act, but state is not yet fully compliant. Texas has a compliance extension, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver's licenses from the states.

KVII Channel 7
ABC and CW affiliate in Amarillo, Texas

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