Will your license fly?

That question almost sounds like something the TV show “Mythbusters” might have tackled a few years ago. But it’s a real question with serious implications for anyone who travels – or may travel – by air.

Right now, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration will accept driver licenses or IDs for personal identification purposes. But that will drastically change on Oct. 1, 2020, when those credentials must meet new, tougher federal standards for air travel. Anyone who tries to use a credential that doesn’t meet the new rules risks missing a flight.

Arizona is one of 37 states that offers a choice of getting either the older style of license or ID, or obtaining a credential that meets the federal requirements. In Arizona, it’s called the Travel ID, and the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division encourages customers to consider getting one well before the October 2020 change.

It’s as easy as making an appointment at ServiceArizona.com to visit the Nogales MVD office and bring the necessary documentation required to get the Travel ID.

The federal standards require a customer to provide one document proving his or her identity, such as a birth certificate or valid U.S. passport. The next form of documentation must have the customer’s Social Security number. Finally, two documents proving Arizona residency are required. Examples of that would be a utility bill, rental agreement or similar paperwork.

For a full list of acceptable documents in all categories, please go to azdot.gov/travelid. This website also provides tips for folks who have more complex situations such as name changes and similar circumstances.

Why the change? Congress mandated these new standards by law in response to recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and the Arizona legislature later passed a state law that requires MVD to issue Travel IDs only to those who want one.

The Travel ID doesn’t replace a U.S. passport or any other form of federal identification. It is a state-issued driver license or ID that meets federal standards to get you through airport security or into federal buildings.

Those entities will accept other forms of ID, such as U.S. or foreign passports, border crossing cards, permanent resident cards, active-duty and dependent military IDs and several other categories. That means getting a Travel ID is up to you, but since it replaces your current credential, it is perhaps the most convenient solution.

Even if you aren’t a frequent, or even occasional, flyer, life events occur that may require a last-minute trip and having a Travel ID could be the simplest way to avoid problems down the road.

In any case, it’s a fair question for you to consider: Will your license fly?

(Nick is assistant communications director for customer outreach at the Arizona Department of Transportation.)

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