The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step, and that first step should be planning. Whether your are using a travel agency like Adobe Travel or just doing it yourself, there are a few things that you need to know about what travel documents you may need to make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. With the extra attention that is being focused on border control here in the US and abroad, it’s important to understand what you need to cross the border into your destination as well as what you need to know about coming back home. I hope this series of articles helps you with this but in no means should be the defacto guide. Each trip contains its own requirements and its best to contact a travel consultant to get the details. While covering these topics I will be approaching this from a United States perspective and some of the requirements will not be pertain to other countries.
Who are You?
The most important documents are your identification. This is required to let the officials at the border checkpoint understand who you are…makes sense, pretty straight forward. Not so fast. It used to be that when you flew domestic all you needed was a drivers license or picture ID. Well that is a changing my friend!
Passport vs. Real ID
A Passport is a document issued by a government that establishes the holders as a member of the issuing country. This is used to establish identity and nationality for that country. In the United States, this is issued by the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Passport is used as a means of identification and to request protection for the traveler when traveling outside of the USA. A passport is required now for all travel outside of the US including Mexico and Canada.
A REAL ID is a new document that is required to travel within the US (and enter federal and military buildings) starting in 2020. This is a result of the findings of the 911 commission and requires all states to follow a set of standards when issuing driver licenses and ID cards. As Stated on the Department of Homeland Security web site “Starting January 22, 2018, passengers who have driver’s licenses issued by a state that is not yet compliant with REAL ID and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Please see TSA’s website for a list of acceptable forms of identification. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is compliant or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual. For a list of states already in compliance or with an extension visit DHS’s REAL ID webpage. DHS continually updates this list as more states come into compliance or obtain extensions.”
Should you get a Travel ID?
The following are general guidelines and there are exceptions. The final decision is yours.
• If you’re getting a Driver License or identification card for the first time.
• If you’re renewing your current license.
• If you’re getting a photo update to your current license.
• The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said current credentials will be accepted until Oct. 1, 2020. Waiting until closer to that time to get a Voluntary Travel ID, which is good for up to eight years, could maximize the value.
Not worth it?
• If you furnish documentation other than your driver license or identification card at airport security or to gain access to secure facilities, there’s no reason to get the Travel ID. What you have now should be sufficient.
We will stop here today but please check back for part two.
Author: Rand Szajna
Rand is the Editorial Director for Adobe Travel, where he oversees the editorial and commercial content as well as emerging businesses for Adobe Travel. Outside of work, Rand enjoys traveling, golfing and of course a great game of fetch with their dog Kyoshi.