PennDot’s Redesigned IDs Not Valid for Air Travel

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced Tuesday it has updated the design and security features of its driver licenses and identification cards, but the enhanced features still fall short of meeting federal guidelines.

PennDOT began issuing the newly designed driver’s licenses on Monday at the Riverfront Office Center in Harrisburg as part of a pilot program. All PennDOT locations will transition to the new cards by the end of October.

The new cards have a larger primary photo, a 2D barcode and the letters “PA” laser-perforated on the card stock. They are laminated with the state motto of “Virtue, Liberty, Independence,” the keystone outline, and “1787,” the year the U.S. Constitution was ratified by Pennsylvania. In addition to the changes, the magnetic strip on the back has been eliminated.

But the new cards are not Real ID-compliant. In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security passed the Real ID Act, which set minimum security standards for issuing driver’s licenses and photo identification cards.

Pennsylvania lawmakers challenged the “constitutionality and legality” of the federal government’s REAL ID Act and responded by enacting the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act in 2012. The law says the state would not comply with the federal guidelines.

The deadline to have a qualifying ID accepted by the Transportation Security Administration to board commercial airliners is Jan. 22. After that, people with IDs from a non-compliant state would need a passport, military ID, or some other compliant ID card to board domestic flights.

PennDOT expects to have Real ID-compliant licenses and identification cards available as an option in 2019.

Homeland Security is expected to issue an extension that would allow Pennsylvanians to continue using their current driver’s licenses at airports until 2020.

When the new ID cards are available, residents will have the choice of a compliant or standard identification. A Real ID license will likely cost more than the standard license.

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