Brother, can you spare a Passport?

Many may remember that little diddy from School House Rock “3 is the Magic Number” but in this case, 3 represents the holdouts for the federal REAL ID law. Currently, the Palmetto State stands with only Maine and New Hampshire as states to either not comply or not ask for an extension.

Last year, this bill came before my subcommittee and full committee before going to the full House. Each time we rejected the bill…for many reasons (actually, we passed a bill saying we would NOT comply). Whether it be cost to the taxpayer or a slew of other reasons, a vast majority of us felt this was yet another federally unfunded mandate.

Just this year, the House and Senate passed a Joint Resolution asking Governor Mark Sanford to request an extension. Now…here’s where I’d like your input:

Would requesting an extension signal we plan to comply with the law or not? That’s what we’re hearing from the Governor’s office and (I think) I can see that point.

Regardless, if we don’t request (or somehow receive an extension without asking?? like Montana did) travelers will soon face a different procedure when they fly the friendly skies.

If you haven’t been following this, here’s a quick summary to bring you up to speed:

REAL ID is a law and rule that establishes minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and personal identification cards. REAL ID compliant drivers licenses and ID cards will allow you to board a federally-regulated airplane, access a federal facility or a nuclear power plant.

The REAL ID Act of 2005, was passed by Congress to make it more difficult to fraudulently acquire a drivers license or ID card, as part of the effort to fight terrorism and reduce fraud.

REAL ID compliant licenses and ID cards must meet minimum standards which include

*information and security features that must be incorporated into each card
*proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status of an applicant
*verification of the source documents provided by an applicant
*security standards for the offices that issue licenses and identification cards

The 9/11 Commission endorsed the REAL ID requirements, noting that “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons … All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of identification document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities.”

REAL ID Next Steps

REAL ID goes into effect May 11, 2008. Recognizing states need more time to implement REAL ID, the department has offered states an extension to allow time to meet the requirements. States granted extensions.

If your state has been granted a REAL ID extension, your current driver’s license is still a valid form of identification for boarding a federally-regulated airplane, accessing a federal facility or nuclear power plant.

If your state does not request a REAL ID extension by March 31, 2008, beginning May 11, 2008, you will not be able to use your state-issued driver’s license or identification card for an official purpose, such as accessing a federal facility, boarding a federally-regulated commercial aircraft, or entering a nuclear power plant.

You can still present another form of acceptable identification such as a U.S. passport, military ID, or government identification badge.

If you do not have another form of acceptable documentation, you may experience delays at the airport due to the requirement for additional security screening.

More information on REAL ID Background, Benefits, Implementation, Privacy and State Information.

This page was last reviewed/modified on March 12, 2008.