SEATTLE, Wash. — Congress passed the REAL ID act in 2005 in an effort to strengthen identification rules at airports. The 9/11 Commission recommended it to the federal government to set standards for how source of identification – such as driver’s licenses – are issued.
The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. Under the law, state driver's licenses and ID cards have to be issued only to people who can prove they are legally living in the United States. If state licenses don’t meet the standards, then federal agencies – such as the TSA – will not accept them.
The Department of Homeland Security will start enforcing the law in October 2020, but they have given a series of deadlines to states to get in compliance.
Washington’s standard driver’s licenses are not in line with federal requirements. This is because Washington does not require proof of legal presence in the United States to get a standard state driver's license or ID.
The state offers, but it does not mandate, TSA-approved enhanced driver’s licenses. These enhanced licenses require proof of U.S. citizenship.
Washington state has been given extensions multiple times to get into compliance. The latest deadline is October 2018 to get into compliance, and the state expects to meet expectations by that time.
States that have been granted an extension will not be subject to REAL ID enforcement at airports or federal facilities until October 2020, according to DHS.
There are a few reasons why the state has taken so long:
1. Washington state offers two IDs: a standard ID, which does not require proof of residency, and an enhanced ID, which does require residency.
2. REAL ID is a mandate for federal agencies, and participation by states is voluntary, not required.
3. Also, Washington state had a law that prevented lawmakers from getting compliant with federal regulations. But an agreement made in the legislature in 2017 – and then signed by Gov. Jay Insee – overturned that law.
How to prepare yourself for the change:
- How's Washington state fixing its out-of-compliance standard licenses?
- Passport to fly domestically? What Washington residents need to know
- What kind of identification does a Washington resident need to get on a plane?
- How do I get a Washington enhanced driver's license?
- New standard WA driver's licenses still won't get you through airport security after changes
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