U.S. residents from Minnesota, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and New York may soon found it harder to take a domestic flight as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just decided to tighten aircraft boarding requirements.
About 31 million Americans who live in those states and in the American Samoa will no longer be able to board on a plane with their driver’s license alone. They will need a passport or other type of enhanced ID for that.
The change stems from a 2005 piece of legislation called the Real ID Act, from which these states initially decided to opt out of security and privacy concerns. But the DHS says that the new rules are necessary to prevent domestic terrorism and identity theft.
In the five states, residents do not need to provide an evidence of their citizenship or residency to board on a plane, get a driver’s license, or buy a home. Yet, federal authorities claim that that leaves room to a ‘noncompliant’ identification.
The DHS announced that the new rules would be enforced “no sooner than 2016,” while states would be granted extra time to comply with the changes. So, in 2016, more than 30 million Americans may need a passport, a traveler card, a governmental ID, or an enhanced driver’s license (EDL), which is considered safer by the federal government than regular driver’s licenses.
So, people should start by now reconsider their options. From a financial point of view, the enhanced driver’s license is the cheapest alternative since it costs only $30. But Minnesotans may complain since their regular driver’s license is only $15.
Yet, the EDL also allows its holders to travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda Islands and the Caribbean without an additional document. So far, only Minnesota and New York can issue EDLs, so about 6 million Americans should take into considerations the other alternatives unless they work for the military or the federal government and have official IDs.
A passport card is also a less costly alternative. It costs $55 in most states and also allows its users to travel to Canada and Mexico. Plus, it is a lot cheaper than a passport, which usually clocks in at $135.
And you should make make sure that you submit a complete and correct passport application as a second try would cost you $60 more.
So far, about 35 percent of U.S. residents have a passport and that figure may grow even more as new rules could force more residents to request one such document.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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