Update: Since this article was originally published (December 8, 2015), it has been confirmed that Washington State residents will have two more years to use standard driver’s licenses to get through airport security before they are no longer compliant with the federal Real ID Act. The two-year extension is intended to give Washington State a final chance to meet the new guidelines. We still recommend getting an enhanced driver’s license or U.S. passport soon, to ensure you have the proper documentation for air travel by the deadline.
The final phase of the Real ID Act is likely to be implemented in early 2016. As a result, Washington State driver’s licenses will not comply with the Federal law because proof of legal status in the U.S. is not required to obtain a license. An extension of a waiver was just rejected by the Department of Homeland Security, so as early as January 10, 2016, for persons born after December 1, 1964, Washington State driver’s licenses may be rejected as proof of identification at airports for domestic travel by TSA, and for entering federal buildings and federal agencies. For identification, you will need to have an enhanced driver’s license, a U.S. passport, or a driver’s license issued by a state in compliance with the Real ID Act.
Unconfirmed sources indicate that DHS may not enforce the law as of January 10, 2016, and TSA may not enforce the law until 2017. A four-month warning is also a possibility. Despite potential delays (if you are under 50 years of age), our advice is not to wait, but rather obtain an enhanced Washington State driver’s license or a U.S. passport now. An added benefit is the enhanced driver’s license can be used as a substitute for a U.S. passport for the purposes of traveling to and from Canada. Please contact us with questions.
Joel can be reached at 206.654.2215 or [email protected]. Janet can be reached at 206.654.2235 or [email protected]. Amy can be reached at 206-654-2260 or [email protected]. Marsha can be reached at 206.654.2253 or [email protected].
This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.