Air travel never gets any easier when it comes to security and on Oct. 1, 2020, Arizona's current ID cards and driver licenses will no longer be accepted when trying to catch a flight.
Travelers will need to replace their IDs with a new, federally accepted Travel ID that will look similar to Arizona's current forms of identification, but with an added gold star.
Congress decided in 2005 that an enhanced version of a standard driver's license would be required because of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell said at an Oct. 1 news conference that in order to get a new Travel ID, people must go through a "secure identity verification process" designed to prevent criminals and terrorists from using fraudulent documents.
The IDs are now available in all but three states: Oregon, Oklahoma and New Jersey, although those states are expected to begin offering them well before the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.
Unlike Arizona IDs, which don't expire for decades, the Travel ID will only be valid for eight years in most cases. Drivers 65 and older must renew their IDs every five years.
Since the Travel ID became available in 2016, the MVD has issued about 500,000. However, there are more than five million Arizona driver licenses and state IDs that may need to be converted, said Steve Elliott, MVD assistant director of communications.
Nationally, only 27% of Americans have been issued a Travel ID, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Even though there is still a year to get the new IDs, the MVD is encouraging people to get them as soon as possible to avoid a rush as the deadline approaches.
"We don’t want to see peoples’ travel plans ruined because they don’t have an ID that meets the upcoming federal TSA checkpoint requirements," Elliott said. "Additionally, many Arizonans will visit MVD for other reasons, like driver's license renewal, replacement, etc., and transitioning during this visit can prevent the need for another visit to convert to a Travel ID."
Elliott said the biggest problem people have run into in getting the Travel ID is not having all of the proper documents with them, especially when converting to the Travel ID wasn't planned ahead of time.
One document people run into problems with in particular is birth certificates. The MVD requires an original birth certificate or certified copy from any U.S. state or territory — hospital-issued birth certificates don't count.
For those planning to get the Travel ID, the MVD has an online guide — azdot.gov/TravelID — that can walk you through what documents you will need to have and schedule an appointment. An appointment isn't required, but Elliott said it can speed up the process and the online guide can prevent showing up without all the necessary documentation.
Getting the Travel ID can take 20 to 25 minutes with an appointment compared to the average 29 minutes all transactions take at the Green Valley MVD office, Elliott said.
The Travel ID is mandatory for traveling, but people don't have to possess one. The Travel ID also isn't necessary for those with other forms of federally compliant IDs, such as a passport or military ID, but Elliott said it may be a good idea to get one all the same.
"While the (TSA) list includes a U.S. passport, we suggest that even for passport holders having the Travel ID provides convenience and flexibility," he said.