DHS Steps Up Real ID Education Efforts

As another deadline for state Real ID compliance creeps closer, Department of Homeland Security officials are hoping travelers and traveler buyers start paying more attention to the “real” deadline looming just a bit farther in the distance.

State Deadline

As of early September, 33 states and Washington, D.C., are issuing licenses and identification cards that meet Real ID standards and are thus certified by DHS. The remaining 17 states and five U.S. territories have extensions to comply, and those extensions expire Oct. 10.

Starting Oct. 10, travelers in noncompliant states that do not have extensions will not be able to use their driver’s licenses at TSA checkpoints in U.S. airports. States and territories that need more time are not likely to have trouble getting additional extensions, said DHS director of identity and credentialing Steve Yonkers. Most already are on track to compliance. Some, such as California, actually already are issuing compliant IDs but just have not completed paperwork to be marked as compliant. By July of next year, all but three states should be issuing compliant IDs, he said.

“States had to turn in their full project schedule last year, taking us through every quarter and confirming a go-live date,” Yonkers said. “From what states have shown us, there really should be no issues of granting an additional extension.”

Traveler Deadline

The “real” deadline, though, is Oct. 1, 2020, Yonkers said. After that, all U.S. airline passengers will be required to present compliant IDs at TSA checkpoints, designated by a star in a circle in the upper right corner. While that’s more than two years away, it’s not too early for travel managers to educate and prepare travelers, Yonkers said.

Even among the states that are compliant, all but nine still offer noncompliant IDs, as well, Yonkers said. In some cases, the noncompliant option is cheaper or comes with a less burdensome process. As such, only about 30 percent of people in those states are opting for the compliant option, meaning the remaining 70 percent are getting a form of identification that will not be acceptable for boarding commercial aircraft, he said.

As such, DHS is stepping up its efforts to inform travelers of the requirements. Signs will go up around TSA checkpoints by the end of October focusing on the 2020 deadline, Yonkers said. Some states are mounting aggressive campaigns to encourage their residents to get compliant IDs. DHS also is looking for ways to engage with the travel buyer community directly, including participating in a Global Business Travel Association webinar next month.

That effort is aimed at preventing travelers from facing long lines at their state bureau or department of motor vehicles or finding themselves in an airport unable to get through security. “We don’t want to create a panic, and states are trying to triage this as much as they can so everyone doesn’t come in at the same time,” Yonkers said. “But our big concern is: Does the American public have any idea this is coming up?”

By Michael B. Baker

Source: Business Travel News