Millions of Americans still don’t have Real ID as 1 year deadline looms |

Millions of Americans still don’t have Real ID as 1 year deadline looms

Nicole C. Brambila
Nicole C. Brambila | Tribune-Review
Drivers license holders’ line up outside the Bridgeville DMV, the only location in the region that provides same-day Real ID service.
Pennsylvanians will need a RealID to enter federal courthouses, board domestic flights or enter any military base starting in 2020.
Real ID issued by PennDOT

An estimated 99 million Americans do not have federally compliant identification cards to fly domestically before the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline, a study by the U.S. Tourism Association has found.

“We’re a year out,” said Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the association. “That means 99 million Americans have to get to the DMV in the next year.”

Barnes called the findings troubling, a sentiment echoed by state officials who were concerned Pennsylvanians were not getting the federally compliant licenses and ID cards, called Real ID, in the first three months of issuance.

Passed by Congress in 2005 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Real ID Act establishes federal security standards for state driver’s licenses and ID.

PennDOT began issuing the cards in March. More than 400,000 Pennsylvanians have acquired a Real ID since then.

Various Real IDs, such as a U.S. passport or passport card, permanent resident card and federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID, among others, can be used for domestic travel. Click here to learn how to get a Real ID.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA)has posted new signs in airports nationwide reminding travelers of the pending the federal deadline, which officials highlighted at a press event at Pittsburgh International Airport earlier this week.

“We encourage residents interested in applying for a Real ID to start the process now, and be aware of all proper documentation needed,” PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers said in a statement. “This will help ensure residents have their Real ID well in advance of the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.”

Conducted using two surveys of 1,000 adults in July and September, the association’s study also relied on U.S. travel economic impact and Bureau of Transportation Statistics air passenger data.

The survey results also showed that nearly three in four Americans are unprepared for the full implementation of Real ID. Starting next year, a Real ID will be required to fly domestically and enter a military base or federal building.

“More than half of Americans, or 57%, have no idea Real ID is coming,” Barnes said.

And roughly 40% of Americans said they lacked any acceptable identification for Real ID.

“On Oct. 1, 2020, we don’t want to see travelers unable to board their plane because they didn’t know they needed a Real ID to fly,” said Bob Kerlik, an Allegheny County Airport Authority spokesman. “We want everyone to be aware of this new requirement and be prepared.”

With 60% of respondents saying they plan to fly in the next two years, the U.S. Travel Association said Real ID’s economic impact could be staggering.

More than 75,000 air travelers could be affected nationwide on the first day of implementation, resulting in $40.3 million in lost travel spending. And if travelers without a Real ID are turned away for a week, the itineraries of more than half a million flyers will be disrupted, costing $282 million in lost spending.

“It’s bad for the economy and it’s bad for the traveling public,” Barnes said.

To guard against this, the association is ramping up an education push and has issued policy recommendations. They include modernizing the Real ID statute to allow, for example, TSA accepting mobile or digitally compliant Real IDs and developing alternative screening procedures that accept TSA PreCheck or Global Entry passengers, who go through rigorous background checks.

To read the full study, click here.

Nicole C. Brambila is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Nicole at 724-226-7704, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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