If you have a U.S. passport, passport card, military ID, or another form of Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) approved ID, these documents will still be accepted to board an airplane. A federally compliant ID will also be required to access military bases and most federal facilities.
If you know you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base, you do not need a REAL ID driver license or ID card. You do not need a federal compliant REAL ID driver license or ID card to do any of the following: Drive. Vote. Apply for or receive federal benefits (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration (SSA), etc.). Enter a federal facility that does not require ID (i.e., a post office). Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services.
State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices are issuing REAL ID driver licenses and ID cards. Check with your state DMV about its requirements. In some states, the federal compliant REAL ID Act is optional, and if you choose "OPTIONAL," you will be issued a NON-COMPLIANT "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY" driver license or ID card (see pictures below). This card cannot be used to board a domestic flight or visit a military base or most federal facilities beginning October 1, 2020. As the law stands now, you have until that date to comply with the law if you want a REAL ID driver license or ID card.
The original Real ID Act (HR 418) was approved by the House on February 10, 2005, by a vote of 261–161. At the insistence of the Real ID Act sponsor and then House Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner (Republican - Wisconsin), the Real ID Act was subsequently attached by the House Republican leadership as a rider to HR 1268, a bill dealing with emergency appropriations for the Iraq War and with the tsunami relief funding.
HR 1268 was widely regarded as a "must-pass" legislation. The original version of HR 1268 was passed by the Senate on April 21, 2005, and did not include the Real ID Act.
However, the Real ID Act was inserted in the conference report on HR 1268 that was then passed by the House on May 5, 2005, by a 368–58 vote and was unanimously passed by the Senate on May 10, 2005.
Nobody has ever articulated how a national ID would cost-effectively improve security of any kind, much less how it would have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Congress rushed the REAL ID Act into law without a hearing or an up-or-down vote in the Senate. REAL ID repealed federal legislation on driver licensing that was passed in the wake of the 9/11, canceling a negotiated rule-making that was bringing together federal officials, state motor vehicle bureaucrats, and a variety of other stakeholders, including privacy advocates.
Instead, REAL ID set up a high-handed system to threaten states that didn’t kowtow to federal driver licensing rules. If states didn’t obey the federal national ID mandate, the Transportation Security Administration would start refusing their residents’ licenses at airports.
When they saw the expense and intrusiveness of implementing the federal government’s national ID plans, governors and legislators from across the country and the political spectrum refused.
The "REAL ID Rebellion" saw more than half the states pass legislation or resolutions barring themselves from complying with REAL ID or asking their congressional delegations to revisit the national ID law. Source: The Hill.com Bog, Repeal Real ID.
The Real ID Act contains five sections, most of which address immigration issues. The first provision revises the procedure for granting asylum status. The third attempts to strengthen border security. The fourth and fifth provisions amend rules for allowing temporary workers to enter the country.
States may continue issuing licenses and ID cards that do not comply with Real ID, but the law requires those documents be clearly marked as unacceptable by the federal government for official purposes. The law defines “official purposes” as including, but not limited to, accessing federal facilities, boarding commercial aircraft, entering nuclear power plants, and any other purposes that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines. The law does not limit potential uses for Real IDs.
The DHS has required that the machine-readable zone required on Real IDs cannot be designed with data encryption techniques to protect Americans' privacy. This will allow businesses to skim people's personal information, which could be sold to data brokerage companies that compile, buy and sell information about people. These companies have a lousy track record of securing data and have been caught selling their data to identity thieves.
Security Experts on Real ID
Top security experts agree that the Real ID Act will not protect America from terrorism:
"I have studied identification and identity cards carefully, and I want you to know that a national ID is neither a protection from terrorism nor a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. A national ID would satisfy the federal government's demand for control -- not Americans' genuine need for security and law enforcement.” - Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, CATO Institute; Member, Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"Real ID is another lousy security trade-off. It'll cost the United States at least $11 billion and we won't get much security in return... For the price, we're not getting anywhere near the security we should.” — Bruce Schneier, CTO of BT Counterpane, the world's largest network data security firm.
Violates The Tenth Amendment
Some critics claim that the Real ID Act violates the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as a federal legislation in an area that, under the terms of the Tenth Amendment, is the province of the states. Thus, Anthony Romero, the executive director of ACLU, stated: "Real ID violates the Constitution's 10th Amendment on state powers, destroys states' dual sovereignty and consolidates every American's private information, leaving all of us far more vulnerable to identity thieves."
Former Republican U.S. Representative Bob Barr wrote in a February 2008 article: "A person not possessing a Real ID Act-compliant identification card could not enter any federal building, or an office of his or her congressman or senator or the U.S. Capitol. This effectively denies that person their fundamental rights to assembly and to petition the government as guaranteed in the First Amendment."
Organizations Opposing Real ID Act
Americans ignore REAL ID at their peril. In 2005, Congress added REAL ID to a war appropriations bill in the middle of the night without public discussion. REAL ID is an unconstitutional power grab – a National ID card – that eliminates state’s rights and gives the federal government control over all citizen identification, movement, and access to goods and services – but only if state legislators agree to conform. Source: Twila Brase, President, Citizens Council for Health Freedom.
The Real ID Act faces criticism from across the political spectrum and remains the subject of several ongoing controversies. Opponents of the Real ID Act include libertarian groups, like the Cato Institute; immigrant advocacy groups; human and civil rights organizations, like the ACLU; Christian advocacy groups, such as the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ); privacy advocacy groups, like the 511 campaign; state-level opposition groups, such as North Carolinians Against Real ID; and Florida, government accountability groups; labor groups, like AFL-CIO; People for the American Way; consumer and patient protection groups; some gun rights groups, such as Gun Owners of America; many state lawmakers, state legislatures, and governors; The Constitution Party; the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal; among others.
Web sites such as no2realid.org, unrealid.com, and realnightmare.org argue that this is a trivial distinction, and that the new cards are in fact national ID cards, thanks to the uniform national standards created by the AAMVA and (especially) the linked databases, and by the fact that such identification is mandatory if people wish to travel out of the United States.
A May 3, 2005, statement by the American Immigration Lawyers Association said: "Because Congress held no hearings or meaningful debate on the legislation and amended it to a must-pass spending bill, the Real ID Act did not receive the scrutiny necessary for most measures, and most certainly not the level required for a measure of this importance and impact. Consistent with the lack of debate and discussion, conference negotiations also were held behind closed doors, with Democrats prevented from participating."
The Constitutional Alliance strongly opposes the Real ID Act 2005. The Real ID Act gives the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) unprecedented power by allowing the Secretary of DHS to solely determine for what "Official Purposes" citizens must present a Real ID materially compliant driver's license. While there are three such official purposes today, the fact is this provision of the Real ID Act 2005 would allow for the Secretary of DHS to add to the current official purposes without consulting with or having the approval of Congress.
The Secretary can add the purchase of a weapon and/or the purchase of ammunition to the current list of official purposes. Also the requirement could be added to require a Real ID compliant driver's license to pick up a prescription. The point is this unfettered discretion given to the Secretary of DHS is in our minds unconstitutional. Nowhere in the Constitution is such broad and sweeping power given to the Executive Branch, let alone a cabinet member. Source: The Constitutional Alliance, Real ID Exposed - It's Worse Than You Think.
Threatening Your Privacy Through a Government Mandate: The federal government is trying to force states to turn your drivers license into a national ID. Unless you tell your state legislator to push back the Real ID Act will create grave dangers to privacy and impose massive financial burdens without improving national security in the least. Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation, Real ID Issues.
The Supreme Court has ruled that citizens do have a right to anonymity. Currently there is no federal law, or laws in most states that would prohibit the use of facial recognition to determine an individual's identity.
Many privacy rights advocates charge that by creating a national system electronically storing vast amounts of detailed personal data about individuals, the Real ID Act increases the chance of such data being stolen and thus raises the risk of identity theft.
The Root of the Resistance
Some states have objected to the database requirement and the requirement to make this database available to the federal government and other states. The obvious fear is someone hacking into any or every state’s database and gaining access to personal information on every person that has ever applied for a driver license or state ID.
According to Jim Harper, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, "In summary, it’s a national ID system. Everyone in your state will be at risk of identity fraud.” DHS refutes this interpretation of the law on the DHS website, stating that “REAL ID does not build a national database nor does it grant the Federal Government or another state access to a state’s driver’s license data.”
The text of the law seems to contradict DHS’s claim. Section 202(d)(12) requires states to “provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State.” Section 202(d)(13) mandates that states “maintain a State motor vehicle database that contains, at a minimum — (A) all data fields printed on drivers’ licenses and identification cards issued by the State; and (B) motor vehicle drivers’ histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.” It seems that the states are required to maintain a database with personal information on its citizens and that other states will have access to that information.
Biometrics and our right to anonymity must be raised in federal court or we will as a country be accepting reasonable suspicion being based on "Big Data" rather than observation. Once a law enforcement officer "captures" a person's facial image when the person is in public and then compares the facial image captured to facial images in a myriad of databases including state DMV databases, the officer will not only be able to determine a person's identity but also be able to find an infinite amount of other PII (Personal Identifiable Information) about the individual. This PII would include what charities a person gives to, what magazines the person subscribes to, which political party a person has supported or is supporting, what medication a person has been prescribed, and many other tidbits of personal information that federal law enforcement and/or state law enforcement has access to.
U.S. States Opposing Real ID Act
This law is under the jurisdiction of Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
For more information, click here.
Current status of State compliance per DHS, click here.
On February 16, 2007, Utah unanimously passed a resolution that opposes the Real ID Act. The resolution states that Real ID is "in opposition to the Jeffersonian principles of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government." It further states that "the use of identification-based security cannot be justified as part of a layered security system if the costs of the identification layer — in dollars, lost privacy, and lost liberty—are greater than the security identification provides;"
"The "common machine-readable technology" required by the Real ID Act would convert state-issued driver licenses and identification cards into tracking devices, allowing computers to note and record people's whereabouts each time they are identified."
"The requirement that states maintain databases of information about their citizens and residents and then share this personal information with all other states will expose every state to the information security weaknesses of every other state and threaten the privacy of every American."
"The REAL ID Act wrongly coerces states into doing the federal government's bidding by threatening to refuse non-complying state’s citizens the privileges and immunities enjoyed by other state’s citizens."
On Sept 20, 2007, Maine enacted 29-A MRSA §1411, “An Act To Prohibit Maine from Participating in the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005,” making Maine the first state to push back against the federal requirements. Maine has privacy concerns because of the Act’s requirements to maintain the database on its citizens and having to grant the federal government access to this database.
In Maine, for example, the database requirement seems to be a major sticking point. REAL ID dictates that, in every state and territory, applicants for IDs will have the documents used to verify their residency scanned and stored in a database that may include birth certificates and Social Security cards. Maine, along with several states, has gone as far as to pass statutes that prohibit the state from complying with the Real ID requirements and, without new legislation, these states cannot comply with the federal law, making their state-issued driver’s licenses ineligible for use to access those federal areas, or, next year, to get past the TSA agent.
Other state concerns include using biometric technology like fingerprinting and facial recognition software and adding this information to the database.
REPEAL Real ID: It’s Worse Than You Think!
Repeal ID Act of 2017 (S.126), introduced into the Senate by Senator Steve Daines on January 12, 2017, repeals the provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 that prohibit federal agencies from accepting state-issued driver's licenses or identification cards that do meet minimum specified security requirements.
The bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish minimum standards for federal agency acceptance of state-issued driver's licenses and personal identification cards for purposes of identification. A federal agency may not accept such a driver's license or identification card issued more than two years after promulgation of such standards unless it conforms with such standards.
Each state shall certify to DOT that the state is in compliance with such standards. DOT shall award grants to assist states to conform driver's licenses and identification cards to such standards.
S.126 Sponsor: Senator Steve Daines, Republican-Montana, Website: Click Here.
115th Congress (2017-2018) Introduced in Senate (January 12, 2017)
Contact: 320 Hart, Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2651
Committees: Senate – Homeland Security and Government Affairs
Latest Action: Introduced into the Senate – 01/12/2017. Read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Demand Your Rights! – Act Now!
1. Contact Senator Steve Daines
Write or email or call the sponsor of Repeal Real ID Act of 2017 (S.126) – Senator Steve Daines. Contact: 320 Hart, Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510 (202) 224-2651.
If you email, use the contact form at his website: Click Here.
If you write, use this format (see image on left). Construct your letterhead by using the large 800x350 pixels logo (above) REPEAL Real ID Act – The Hidden Agenda Behind The National ID Law. It will fit perfectly on your letterhead, and give it a DYNAMIC presentation of URGENCY. Place your cursor arrow over the image, and right click. Click "Save Picture As" and download image to your hard drive or flash drive. Insert logo into your letter. An example of the letter and image is on the left.
Also, here’s the same sample letter provided by Campaign for Liberty. Copy and paste it into your letter. Or, design your own.
Date Goes Here
TO: Senator Steve Daines, 320 Hart, Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510
FROM: Your Name Goes Here; Your Email Address Goes Here or Home/Office Address
Whereas: Congress used a sneaky, un-democratic political move to pass the Real ID Act into a military spending bill in 2005, and
Whereas: The Department of Homeland Security has announced that all U.S. citizens that hold a driver license must comply with Real ID by October 20, 2020, and
Whereas: Citizens in states that do not comply with the Real ID could lose their right to board an airplane, open a bank account, enter a federal building, or even hold a job, and
Whereas: The Real ID Act established federal “standards” for driver’s licenses that may include “biometric” features, and
Whereas: The Real ID Act requires personal information on American citizens be stored in a massive federal database where it can be shared with federal agencies, state governments, any law enforcement agency, and even foreign governments, putting Americans at risk from having their personal information stolen by computer hackers and identity thieves, and
Whereas: Real ID gives the federal government new powers to monitor the actions of American citizens in direct violation of their constitutional rights.
Therefore, I respectfully request that you marshal your forces with Congress and President Donald Trump and move forward to pass S.126 – Repeal ID Act of 2017.
Your supporters and voters and the American people will thank you.
2. Contact Your Representatives in Congress
Write or email your congress representatives. Click Here for Contact Information.
Again, if you write, use the large logo in your letterhead and the same wording as above. Replace the last sentence with this wording: Therefore, I urge you to co-sponsor the Repeal ID Act (S. 126) with its sponsor Senator Steve Daines, which will fully repeal Section II of the Real ID Act of 2005 and eliminate the need for a national ID card.
3. Share This Page With Your Friends on Social Media
Use the Facebook SHARE button at top left corner of this page, or at the bottom of this page. Use the large logo and insert it into your post. This law impacts every American that holds a driver license. Do you want this law? Act NOW and REPEAL Real ID Act.
Partial List of Organizations Opposing Real ID Act
Click name to access website and contact information.