Real ID: What Meeting Planners Should Know

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Travelers will need Real ID-compliant identification cards to board domestic flights starting October 1, 2020 as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will officially begin enforcing the REAL ID Act of 2005 at airports. This will require all Americans to present REAL ID-compliant identification to go through security.

This identification will include “Real ID-compliant” driver’s licenses, US passports, US military IDs or other accepted identification to fly within the United States.

Americans aren’t prepared, according to the U.S. Travel Association, the non-profit that promotes travel to and within the United States. It is important that you realize this and educate your meeting and incentive attendees.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 57 percent are unaware of the October 1, 2020 deadline. Furthermore, an estimated 182 million Americans, 72 percent, either have a standard driver’s license or are unsure whether their ID is REAL ID-compliant, and an estimated 99 million Americans, 39 percent, do not have any form of identification that would be accepted on October 1, 2020.

“Our survey gave us the answer we didn’t want to hear: that there is alarming lack of awareness and preparedness a short year out from REAL ID going into full effect,” says Roger Dow, U.S. Travel’s president and CEO. “This is significant not only because it will inconvenience travelers and create confusion at U.S. airports—it could do significant damage to our nation’s economy.

All 50 states are part of the Real ID program and will begin issuing compliant driver’s licenses this year. U.S. Travel is urging people not to wait to get their Real ID-compliant driver’ license so that state licensing agencies won’t get overwhelmed by requests for new driver’s licenses next summer as the deadline approaches.

Such licenses will feature a special mark, typically in the upper right corner of the license. The marks vary by state but typically will include a gold or black star, or a gold or black circle with a white or black star inside the circle. Some states will be issuing cards marked with their state emblem or an outline of the state with a gold, black or white star incorporated in it.

For more information about Real ID-compliant identification cards, go to 


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