The Department of Homeland Security announced today that US fliers in select states and territories may use drivers licenses that do not meet newer federal security standards at TSA checkpoints until January 22nd, 2018. After that deadline passes, airline passengers will need an alternative identification document like a passport if they don't have a drivers license that is compliant with the Real ID Act. The law, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted regulations designed to prevent counterfeit ID cards in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but getting states to start complying has taken more than a decade.
So far 23 states and US territories have complied with Real ID standards, while 27 states and territories have been granted an extension, with some states' deadlines stretching to October 1st, 2020. Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa have not made an effort to meet the new standards, which include running background checks on license issuers and putting anti-counterfeit tech into the license itself. So the TSA did not grant those areas an extension, and they now have two years to become compliant.
Five states and American Samoa have a hard January 2018 deadline
"Over the next two years, those states that are not Real ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. "Given today’s threat environment, this requirement is as relevant now as it was when the 9/11 Commission recommended it." Homeland Security is now urging fliers to check their state's Real ID compliance on its website, as well as looking into obtaining a new card from licensing agencies in currently compliant states.