There’s a lot of confusion right now about REAL ID and whether residents of some states need a passport to fly on domestic flights. But don’t let all the misleading info out there tie you in knots — we’ve untangled this tricky web for you below.
We know that it may not be the best time to travel. But it’s still important that we provide our readers with updates and advice, not only about COVID-19, but also logistical travel questions. For example, what kind of identification — passport, driver’s license, or REAL ID — do you really need for domestic flights this year?
Do you need a passport to fly?
The good news is that American citizens do not need a passport to fly domestically. You will always need a passport to fly internationally though.
Read on for more info about the types of ID you can use while traveling domestically, upcoming changes to ID that will affect all US travelers, and how to get a passport.
Do you need a passport to fly in the US?
In a word: No. Not yet, anyway.
But just in case that wasn’t confusing enough, here’s another twist: Something called a REAL ID will be required for domestic flights from October 1, 2021.
What form of ID do I need?
The most common forms of ID to travel within the US are state-issued driving licenses or ID cards or a military ID. You’ll find a full list of acceptable IDs on the TSA website.
Upcoming changes to forms of ID
From October 1, 2021, you will need a REAL-ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport or military ID. This comes from congress passing an act that tightened up security standards for state driver’s licenses and ID cards.
The easiest way to spot if your state ID is a REAL ID, is if there’s a star in the top right-hand corner
The availability of REAL ID varies from state to state. We recommend contacting your local government for more information.
If you can, it makes sense to update your state driver’s license or ID card so that it meets REAL ID standards before October 1, 2021.
Do I need a passport to fly internationally?
At last, an easy question. Yes — when you’re crossing international borders, a passport will always be required.
How do I get a passport?
Applying for a passport is easy. If it’s your first passport you have to apply in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility. Currently, some of these offices are closed, so make sure to find your nearest one here and confirm they are open.
Otherwise, your passport application involves filling out some forms, showing proof of ID, providing two passport photos and paying the fees. Typically, it takes 6-8 weeks to receive your passport but you can also expedite the process if you need a passport urgently. Due to closed facilities expediting may not be an option.
Need to just renew your passport? That’s even easier. You can renew by mail, remembering to include your old passport along with the forms, photos and fees.
You can find all the info you need here.
Remember: check your passport
Make sure your passport hasn’t expired before you travel.
Also, be aware that some countries (such as China, Thailand, Singapore, Egypt and Turkey) require that your passport is valid for at least another six months from when you arrive. So if you’re planning to travel in August, and your passport expires in October, certain countries will consider your passport to be invalid and won’t let you in.
Some countries also require you to have a minimum of four blank pages in your passport.
For quick reference, you can check out the passport rules for these popular destinations:
Now you’ve got your passport sorted, how about finding a sweet flight deal for when we can travel again? We’ve got tons of advice on how to find the best routes and prices:
Looking for cheap flights or want to enjoy a getaway last minute? We publish the best travel deals as soon as we come across them. Whether it’s a sunny beach or a budget weekend getaway you’re looking for, check out the best prices right here before you book.
Our useful flight price tracker will keep an eye on your chosen flight and let you know as soon as the price drops – or if it starts to rise.
Last-minute flights used to be the go-to for travelers looking for cheap flights. But in the age of budget airlines, are last-minute flight deals impossible to find today?
Do you ever find yourself trapped in an endless hunt for the best flight deal on the web? Here we share the latest Expedia flight deals.