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Travel by Plane

Find safety information, security requirements, rules for flying with pets, and helpful tips when traveling by air with children.

Travel by Plane

Know the rules, tips and resources available to have a safe, low-hassle plane trip.

Safety

Security

  • Know the rules for getting yourself, your family and your carry-on items through the airport security screening.
  • The REAL ID Act created a national standard for state-issued IDs. Some states' driver's licenses don't comply with those standards. Starting October 1, 2021, travelers with state driver's licenses that do not comply with those standards will need passports or other valid IDs to board domestic flights. See if your state complies and when you need to present an alternate ID.

Traveler Information

What Is REAL ID?

REAL ID is not a national identification card. It is a set of standards that Congress passed through the REAL ID Act in 2005. The act requires that government-issued IDs follow a set of security standards. It also prohibits federal agencies from using non-compliant IDs to verify your identity.

For many people, a state-issued driver’s license or identification card is their REAL ID. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards all have a star marking on the upper part of the ID card. 

Check to see if your driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant. See the question under “For the Public” on this REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions page.

Why do I need a REAL ID?

Federal agencies can use your REAL ID to verify your identity. You can also use a REAL ID to:

How can I get a REAL ID?

You can get a REAL ID when you apply for or renew your driver’s license or state identification card. Visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation you’ll need to show to get a REAL ID. Your new license will have the new REAL ID-compliant star marking at the top of your ID card. 

When must I have a REAL ID to board a plane?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new REAL ID deadline is October 1, 2021. On and after this date, you must have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license/state ID or another acceptable form of ID to fly commercially within the U.S. This rule applies to all passengers 18 and over. If your ID is not compliant, you must have another form of ID that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) accepts. Otherwise you will not be permitted to go through security at the airport to board your flight.  

Besides REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, other acceptable forms of ID to board a plane include:

Get the entire list of identifications that are valid for screening at TSA security checkpoints.

What happens if I don’t get a REAL ID?

If you don’t get a REAL ID, you won’t be able to use your driver’s license or state ID card to board a plane in the U.S. You’ll have to show one of the other forms of ID that the TSA accepts. Other federal agencies may require a REAL ID for official purposes. 

Can I still get a non-REAL ID-compliant identification card?

States do issue driver’s licenses and ID cards that are not REAL ID-compliant. Check with the proper federal, state, or local government agency to see what ID requirements they have for official purposes. 

Infographic: Are You Taking Your Child on a Plane?

Learn how to keep your baby or toddler safe on a plane.

Opens in new window View a larger version of the infographic.

Are You Taking Your Child on a Plane? Description of Infographic below.
  • Are you taking your child on a plane? Your arms aren’t capable of holding your little one securely, especially in turbulence. Keep your child safe in a car seat or harness government-approved for use on planes. Follow these tips for flying with children:

    • A child weighing 40 pounds or less should be strapped into a car seat or child safety harness approved for use on planes.
    • Measure your car seat’s width. If it’s 16 inches or less, it should fit in most plane seats.
    • Ask your airline for a discounted fare. Buying your child a ticket is the only way to guarantee you can strap your little one in.
    • For more information, visit www.faa.gov/travelers/fly_children/

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Last Updated: August 3, 2020

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