Standard Driver’s License Won’t Be Enough For Domestic Air Travel After Oct. 1, 2020
WINDSOR LOCKS, CT — A standard driver’s license will no longer be adequate for domestic air travel after Oct. 1, 2020, and state and federal officials have launched a marketing push urging Connecticut residents to obtain a Real ID before that deadline passes a year from now.
The Real ID endorsement is the result of a 2005 federal law passed at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission’s review of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The endorsement varies slightly from state to state, but is generally a gold star in the top right corner of the driver’s license or other state ID card.
Connecticut has been issuing REAL ID endorsements on new and renewed IDs since 2011, and has now converted about 47% of the 2.6 million licenses in the state, said DMV Commissioner Sibongile Magubane.
“We did almost 50% in the previous eight years, and now we have a year to do the rest,” Magubane said. “What we’re trying to avoid is that last-minute rush.”
She said the DMV will have to issue about 100,000 Real ID endorsements a month to get everyone updated before the effective date next year.
“With almost a year to go, the DMV is really pushing to ensure that everyone in Connecticut has the right information to be able to get their Real ID,” Magubane said during an event Thursday afternoon at Bradley International Airport. “We will be pushing out public service announcements starting in October.”
About 75% of the state’s commercial driver’s licenses already have the Real ID endorsement, she said.
Officials said a Real ID-compliant identification is not mandatory, but people without it will need a passport to travel on domestic flights after Oct. 1, 2020. Passports will still be needed for all international travel.
Information on how to obtain a REAL ID endorsement is available on the DMV website at portal.ct.gov/DMV or at tsa.gov/real-id. Information is also available there on the required documentation needed to obtain a Real ID-compliant license or other ID.
William Csontos, the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Security Director for Connecticut, said the endorsement improves security because it adds a level of complexity to identification cards and signals to TSA screeners that the traveler has gone through an extra level of scrutiny to obtain the ID.
Terrorists on Sept. 11 used forged travel documents to board the flights they hijacked, officials said.
“From the TSA perspective, a Real ID-compliant license gives us another important tool in our security toolbox,” Csontos said. “It improves the reliability and accuracy of state identification documents and most importantly prevents and deters terrorists’ ability to avoid detection by using fraudulent identification.”
He said travelers after Oct. 1, 2020, without a federally-approved ID will not be able to board any flight, even within the United States. He said the TSA and state agencies are doing as much as they can to raise awareness so people don’t show up to airports having paid for flights, hotels and other accommodations for the “vacation of a lifetime” only to be turned away at the TSA counter for not having the correct ID.
TSA checkers have already begun screening for the new rules as part of their training and to alert as many travelers as possible about the upcoming policy change, Csontos said.
DMV Deputy Commissioner Antonio “Tony” Guerrera said most of the new licenses issued in Connecticut have included the gold star.
“Anybody who’s getting a new license, particularly a new driver, they’re automatically getting that Real ID,” Guerrera said.