Preventing terrorists from obtaining state-issued identification documents is critical to securing America against terrorism. As the 9/11 Commission noted, "For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons." The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, at 384 (2004).
Secure driver's licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy. Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be. REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the Federal Government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.
The 9/11 Commission recommended that the Federal Government work with other layers of government to solidify the security of government-issued documents. Securing state-issued identification documents is a common-sense national security and law enforcement imperative, which also helps to combat identity fraud and illegal immigration.
Check the Status of Your State
DHS issued a Determination of Compliance to the State of Arizona on April 18, 2016. Arizona is the 24th state determined to be compliant with the standards of the REAL ID Act.
New Mexico received an extension on February 26, 2016. Federal agencies may now accept driver's licenses and identification cards by New Mexico for accessing federal facilities, military installations, and nuclear power plants; Agencies remain prohibited from accepting driver's licenses and identification cards issued by Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington, and American Samoa.
Until January 2018, if traveling by air, residents from ANY state are still able to use a driver’s license, or any of the various other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry cards, U.S. military IDs, airline or airport-issued IDs, federally recognized, and tribal-issued photo IDs. (See the full list on the TSA website.)
Effective January 22, 2018, if you have a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act, unless that state has been granted an extension, you must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to TSA in order to board a commercial domestic flight.
Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.