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Do Kids Need A REAL ID? Here's What Parents Need To Know

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The standard-issue driver's license many of us have tucked away inside our wallets right now soon won't be enough to get you on a domestic flight. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, anyone seeking to fly within the United States or access any type of federal facility will have to have a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, passport, or military ID. But do kids need a REAL ID? Here's what parents and guardians need to know about upcoming changes to federal identification standards.

Do Minors Need To Have A REAL ID?

Children under the age of 18 are not required to provide identification when traveling with an adult companion within the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Meaning that although no one over the age of 18 will be able to board a domestic flight without one form of accepted identification (such as a passport or the new REAL ID) come October 2020, children won't need to have a REAL ID. The adult companion traveling with the minor, however, absolutely will have to possess a REAL ID or other form of accepted identification, according to both the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

"Travelers age 18 and over must show valid identification at airport checkpoints in order to travel," a spokesperson from TSA tells Romper. "Travelers younger than 18 do not need to show identification. This extends to beyond the Oct. 1 deadline for REAL ID."

While airlines and TSA have long accepted state-issued driver's licenses or other photo identification cards for travel within the United States, the REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 established new security standards for license and identification card issuance. It also prohibits federal agencies like TSA and the Department of Homeland Security from accepting driver's licenses and identification cards that fail to meet the minimum security standards laid out in the law.

Will Any Other Forms Of ID Be Accepted?

Parents who are worried about having the proper form of identification required to travel with their children within the United States beginning October 2020 may not need to rush out and secure a REAL ID right away. If you already have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, you're good to fly, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Other forms of accepted identification include foreign-government issued passports, permanent resident cards, and a Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler cards to name only a few. The full list of accepted forms of identification is here and worth checking.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that while a passport can take the place of a REAL ID when flying domestically, a REAL ID can’t replace a passport. Not for children. Not for adults. That means that children traveling internationally will still be required to have a passport after the REAL ID requirements become law in October.

OK, But What If I Need A REAL ID?

Of course, even if you already have a valid passport, there's no harm in obtaining a REAL ID ahead of the October deadline. But before rushing to your nearest department of motor vehicles (DMV), check with your state's DMV office or other licensing agency to make sure they're currently issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses. For example, Oregon is not scheduled to begin issuing REAL ID-compliant driver's or identification cards until July 6, according to the Oregon DMV. Similarly, Oklahoma won't issue REAL ID compliant cards statewide until Aug. 31, the state's Department of Public Safety has noted.

Next, you'll want to make note of what documentation your state licensing agency requires you provide to obtain a REAL ID. According to the Department of Homeland Security, you will be required to, at minimum, provide documentation that shows your full legal name, date of birth, social security number, proof of address, and lawful status. That being said, states may set additional requirements, so be sure to check what's needed when making your appointment.

While parents can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to their children and the new REAL ID requirements, it may be smart to obtain a REAL-ID compliant form of identification for yourself as soon as possible to make clearing TSA checkpoints with your kids a breeze come October.

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