By: Steven M. Williams and Carl L. Engel
On October 10, 2018, Pennsylvanians will no longer be allowed to board domestic flights or to enter federal facilities, such as federal courthouses and military bases, using their driver’s licenses. This change comes pursuant to the U.S. REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005 to mandate enhanced security features on government-issued IDs. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that it will seek another extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for this deadline. However, because Pennsylvania has already been granted several extensions in the past and implementation of the Act first began in 2014, there is a possibility that the Department will decline to extend the deadline further.
REAL ID drivers’ licenses and identification cards will become available to Pennsylvania residents in March 2019. However, to expedite their receipt of a REAL ID driver’s license, Pennsylvanians can already begin the pre-verification process. Pennsylvanians who received their first learner’s permit, driver’s license, or state identification after September 1, 2003, can apply for pre-verification on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s website, at www.dmv.pa.gov. For those who received the first of these documents before that date, pre-verification applications must be completed at a PennDOT office. Pre-verification is required if a resident wishes to apply for their REAL ID compliant driver’s license online when they become available in March.
The REAL ID Act does not affect Pennsylvanians’ ability to use their current drivers’ licenses to drive or to enter state facilities such as county courthouses. Further, children under the age of 18 will not be required to provide identification when traveling domestically with a companion, even after the Act goes into full effect in October 2020. A passport will continue to be required for international travel.
If you anticipate flying commercially or entering into any federal buildings (e.g., social security offices, courthouses, etc.), we recommend that you bring your U.S. passport until you obtain a REAL ID from PennDOT next year. We continue to monitor the situation and will provide an update if another deadline extension is granted, or if there are other meaningful changes in PennDOT’s implementation of the REAL ID Act.