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Four Tips To Remember When Checking Your ID At Airport Security

Thursday, August 02, 2018
Passports

Whether you’re traveling with an expired license, misplaced your ID, or recently changed your name, you can still fly. Here are a few tips you should know before you fly.

1) Know what is valid ID

While booking your flight, be sure to fill out your name as it is printed on your ID.  Doing this will save you time and will help alleviate any likely delays at the TSA checkpoint. Find the complete list of valid identification here.

2) Be aware of what to expect at the security checkpoint

You should arrive as early as possible, at least two hours prior to your scheduled departure to allow enough time to complete the screening process. The TSA officer will ask for your boarding pass and an acceptable form of ID prior to entering the security checkpoint. Our officers will review your travel document(s) and ID to ensure that the information presented matches. Once your information is compared and your identity is verified, you will be allowed to continue through the security checkpoint.

If you’re traveling with an expired license or passport you may still be able to fly.  Acceptable forms of ID cannot be more than 12 months past the identified expiration date.

If you have misplaced, lost, traveling with an expired ID, or simply do not have an acceptable form of ID, our officers will ask you for two secondary forms of identification, with the following information:

  • Name
  • A photo
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth

The TSA officer will review all documentation provided in order to verify your identity. To minimize any potential delays, you are encouraged to provide as much information and documentation as possible. If your identity cannot be verified with the provided documentation, you may be required to go through an alternative identity verification process, which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information, and asking personal questions to help confirm your identity.

3) Know what to expect during screening

Once the TSA officer confirms your identity you can proceed through security screening.  You will be screened by the Advanced Imaging Technology or a walk-through metal detector.  You may be subject to additional screening, which will include a pat-down and a bag search. Watch what to expect during a pat-down.   

However, if your identity cannot be verified, you will not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint.

4) Be aware ID requirements are changing

The Real ID Act improves the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and deters terrorists’ ability to use fake or fraudulently-obtained IDs. Beginning October 1, 2020, if you plan to use your state-issued ID, be sure it is Real ID compliant. If you are not sure if your license is REAL ID compliant, check with your state department of motor vehicles. You can also present any other valid identification such as a U.S. military ID, U.S. passport or passport card. For more information on REAL ID and to check if your state is real ID compliant, please visit DHS.gov

For additional questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at a checkpoint, contact the TSA Contact Center before your next flight or send a tweet or direct message on Facebook to AskTSA.

TSA Social Media

Comments

Submitted by Donald H on

The alternative is to use other means of public transportation where TSA does not invade your privacy. If one must use air travel, a valid, prepaid ticket where a single valid ID should be used to purchase that ticket, and a metal detector/explosives screening prior to boarding is all that is really necessary to provide the protection. I have never accepted the notion that removing one's belt and shoes or any other article of clothing is a real screening requirement, because there are other means to check for contraband. Just like any other federal bureaucracy, the TSA has taken a life of its own for its own expensive continuation. And now, the TSA wants to cut back at the smaller, little used airports because of that expense! How does that provide air travel security?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What security point is accomplished by a TSA screener checking ID'S given that every passenger is cleared entry to the sterile area by an approved TSA inspection?

Submitted by Number 5 on

5) Remember that ID checks are completely pointless and do nothing to make anyone more secure.

Just ask the two-person blog team -- they can't give a single reason why their agency's ID obsession makes flying safer.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...now what is valid ID

While booking your flight, be sure to fill out your name as it is printed on your ID. Doing this will save you time and will help alleviate any likely delays at the TSA checkpoint. Find the complete list of valid identification here."

You never have explained how ID is important. What does WHO I am have to do with what I am (or am not) bringing on the flight with me?

Submitted by Susan Richart on

West, can you explain to us why ID is so important to the TSA? The screeners are checkpoints don't have a connection to any databases to determine if a name is on a "bad boy" list.

IF, and that's a fairly good-sized "IF", screeners have properly done their job (with dignity and respect, of course), it shouldn't matter if Jack The Ripper gets on a plane.

Submitted by West Cooper on

I have seen several folks ask why we check IDs. Please refer back to some of our previous posts about IDs:

Why is ID important?

ID Q & A

Yet another ID Post

Furthering the dialog on IDs

There are other posts, but these are the original ones from back in the beginning of the blog, and the reasoning behind why we do ID checking, has not changed. Essentially, TSA checks IDs to make certain that the person presenting at the podium, is who they say they are, and that they have been checked against the database.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Submitted by West Cooper on Mon, 2018-08-06 10:16
I have seen several folks ask why we check IDs. Please refer back to some of our previous posts about IDs:

Why is ID important?

ID Q & A

Yet another ID Post

Furthering the dialog on IDs

There are other posts, but these are the original ones from back in the beginning of the blog, and the reasoning behind why we do ID checking, has not changed. Essentially, TSA checks IDs to make certain that the person presenting at the podium, is who they say they are, and that they have been checked against the database.

TSA Blog Team

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
None of those references actually answer the basic question. Especially given that TSA doesn't directly compare the name on the ID to the Terrorists Watch Lists databases.

So the question remains even while TSA continues side-stepping the question.

Submitted by Nice Try on

All of those "explanations" make no sense -- the sort of nonresponses that would get zero points on an exam for being a word salad, not a coherent answer. The ID checks are pointless and you know it.

Now, how does a passenger tell if a patdown has crossed the line into sexual assault, West?

Submitted by Max Yost on

There are two basic reasons why they check IDs:

1. Kip Hawley declared: "ID matters."
2. It's a great way for the TSA to surreptitiously conduct a general law enforcement dragnet that real LE agencies could never get away with.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...but these are the original ones from back in the beginning of the blog, and the reasoning behind why we do ID checking, has not changed."

You are correct, the reasons have not changed. Checking ID's was security theater when you wrote those other posts just like it is security theater now. You didn't explain why ID mattered then, you haven't (and can't) explain why ID matters now.

The nice agent you have in the bouncer position is not connected to anything. The only thing that agent is going to be able to tell is if an id is fake. You can't check a name against any terrorist list because the agent is sitting at a podium, not a terminal.

And I remember when you started this nonsense there was a workaround that took zero seconds to figure out and there was even somebody who did it and got past security. The booked the flight under a 'safe name' meaning not on your magic-watch-list. The photoshoped their real name onto the ticket and took that through your screening. Your peoples put the magic checkmark on the fake ticket and the guy went through security. Once he was on the side he had the real ticket with the fake name for boarding.

You could at least do us the favor of sounding embarrassed when your shortcomings are pointed out. Doubling down on stupid by showing us how many times you tried to make something irrelevant into something important just makes you and your agency look even more sad.

We taxpayers are giving you eight billion dollars a year. And then the people who fly are giving you another thirteen bucks per leg of their flight. You could at least try to look like you are doing something with that money.

Submitted by B on

To those saying there is no reason to check ID:
Let's say John Doe (known terrorist on a no-fly list) wants to get on a plane. He knows he will not be able to fly under his own persona. So he asks Joe Schmoe (whose record is squeaky clean) to buy him a ticket. Day of the flight, John Doe shows up with a ticket that says Joe Schmoe. Since no one checks his ID and realized he is not actually Joe Schmoe, he gets on the plane. That doesn't seem problematic to you?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Once you book your ticket your name and other information is ran through a national data base. This is one reason why we have to verify your identity.

Submitted by Ezzyduzit on

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on Sat, 2018-08-04 11:55
"...now what is valid ID

While booking your flight, be sure to fill out your name as it is printed on your ID. Doing this will save you time and will help alleviate any likely delays at the TSA checkpoint. Find the complete list of valid identification here."

You never have explained how ID is important. What does WHO I am have to do with what I am (or am not) bringing on the flight with me ? ...... why is it important to stop at a stop sign or stop light when there is no other traffic on the street ???? BECAUSE ITS THE RULES .... dont like the rules then dont fly

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"..Let's say John Doe (known terrorist on a no-fly list) wants to get on a plane."

First, if he is a known terrorist why is he not in jail. Either they are dangerous and need to be arrested, or they aren't and need to be left alone. If they are so dangerous we can't let them on a plane then why are they free to roam around everywhere else?

Second, the TSA Agent checking the ID's is not connected to anything, he/she is sitting at a podium and not a terminal. There is no way they are going to know that Joe Shmoe ticket holder standing in front of them is actually on the magic no-fly list.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...Once you book your ticket your name and other information is ran through a national data base. This is one reason why we have to verify your identity."

No.

The airlines ran your name through the list, not the TSA Agent standing at the podium ahead of security.

The agent checking the id's has no way of verifying the name of the person standing in front of him is on the magical-secret no fly list.

Submitted by Ann on

Give it back to the airlines, they are the ones that should be responsible for who gets on their aircraft.

Submitted by The Original "RB" on

Submitted by B on Tue, 2018-08-07 10:13
To those saying there is no reason to check ID:
Let's say John Doe (known terrorist on a no-fly list) wants to get on a plane. He knows he will not be able to fly under his own persona. So he asks Joe Schmoe (whose record is squeaky clean) to buy him a ticket. Day of the flight, John Doe shows up with a ticket that says Joe Schmoe. Since no one checks his ID and realized he is not actually Joe Schmoe, he gets on the plane. That doesn't seem problematic to you?
...........................
If this person is screeneed by TSA's Highly Trained, Professional Screeners then no, not a problem. That is unless you lack confidence in TSA's screeners or screening procedures.

So which is it?

Submitted by Ashante' Lowery on

I just wanted to say Hello West!!

Submitted by West Cooper on

Ashante' sez - "I just wanted to say Hello West!!"

Thank you much Ma'am, hello to you as well! Welcome to the fray.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by West Cooper on

Anon sez – “None of those references actually answer the basic question. Especially given that TSA doesn't directly compare the name on the ID to the Terrorists Watch Lists databases.

So the question remains even while TSA continues side-stepping the question.”

Nope, the answers are in the links provided. One has but to look through and see the answers – you may disagree with the answers, but they are there.

Nice Try sez – “All of those "explanations" make no sense -- the sort of nonresponses that would get zero points on an exam for being a word salad, not a coherent answer. The ID checks are pointless and you know it.”

I know that the answer to the original question “Why does TSA check IDs”, is in those links – multiple times, and multiple ways. You may disagree with the answers, but they are there, in abundance.

Max sez – “There are two basic reasons why they check IDs:

1. Kip Hawley declared: "ID matters."
2. It's a great way for the TSA to surreptitiously conduct a general law enforcement dragnet that real LE agencies could never get away with.”

1. Kip did declare that ID matters, and then explained his reasoning – ad nauseum when we made the change

2. Not even remotely close. We are verifying that the individual in front of us, is the same as the person that is on the ticket to the best of our abilities. If someone shows up with fraudulent IDs, we do contact Law Enforcement, but that is because someone is trying to pawn off fake IDs.

TSA Blog Team

Submitted by The "Original" RB on

Submitted by West Cooper on Wed, 2018-08-08 16:02
Anon sez – “None of those references actually answer the basic question. Especially given that TSA doesn't directly compare the name on the ID to the Terrorists Watch Lists databases.

So the question remains even while TSA continues side-stepping the question.”

Nope, the answers are in the links provided. One has but to look through and see the answers – you may disagree with the answers, but they are there.
...........................

West, since you are so confident that the answer can be found in the posted links and no one else can seem to find the answers why don't you help everyone out and post the wording that contains the answer? Perhaps you can't find it either!

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"..If someone shows up with fraudulent IDs, "

You didn't answer the question then and you didn't answer it now. A reporter back in 2006 (maybe 2008) got past security with a fake ticket and his real ID. And in 2014 there was a guy with a real ID and a real ticket that was prevented from flying because your agents didn't know that Washington DC is a real place that issues real identifications.

A quick google search shows at least one story per year since your ID rules of someone getting past you with some variation of fake ID's and/or fake boarding passes making it pretty clear that, in fact, ID means nothing to your mission. If you screen everyone who goes through security why does it matter what their name is? If they are on your magic-secret-list they would not have been able to even purcahse the tickets because it is the airlines who do that checking, not you. And certainly not the agent sitting at the podium with the little purple flashlight.

Submitted by The Original "RB" on

I seem to recall a story that made the news a few months back where some people where screened and for some reason there was no ID checker. TSA's public response was that ID didn't matter since the people went through physical screening.

I'm looking for the story but if anyone else can find that story I would appreciate it.

Kinda closed the door on TSA's claim that "ID Matters"!

Submitted by Kerry on

This agent at the podium has other tools to distinguish real ID’s that may prove improvised or fraudulent. The basic premise which you continue to argue with is that no one who is allowed into an airport without going thru screening to verify identity thru severala layers of checks and balances

Submitted by WOW on

Seriously, how thick can you people be??? TSA does not need direct access to the no-fly list. That has already been checked when you purchased the ticket. They simply need verify that you are the person whose name is on the ticket (you know, the name that was verified when you purchased said ticket as being permitted to fly). Otherwise, as has been pointed out already, a person who is on the no-fly list for whatever reason could put any stolen or borrowed identity through the airline for the ticket purchase and then walk right through security.

Now, if you disagree that there should be a no-fly list (for those of you stating that the flyer and baggage screenings make that irrelevant), that is a completely separate issue.

Also, for whoever states that a known terrorist should be in jail- yes, obviously, they should. But maybe it's someone who we are looking for but haven't been able to track down. And you're wanting to make it real damn easy for them to get out of the country and never get caught. Of course, you're all entitled to you opinions, but I am definitely not OK with that.

Submitted by OK, But on

...the ID checks at the airport have nothing to do with that.

Submitted by Lisa on

Will I be able to board a plane if I show a temp. state ID and other alternates like a photocopy or my birth certificate/SSN?

Submitted by Paul on

What’s really fun is when you go through security and the TSA employee lectures you about why you shouldn’t use the (valid!) form of ID that you provided.

I’ve been lectured that I shouldn’t use my passport when boarding a domestic flight, as I didn’t “need it for this trip”. I’ve been lectured for using my CAC, which was “bad OPSEC”. I’ve been lectured— despite TSA’s policy exceptions— for using a drivers license from a non-REALID state, despite the fact that I had paid extra for the REALID-compliant license.

Maybe travelers would be less confused about what’s acceptable if TSA employees were less confused, and didn’t feel like it was their job to lecture people about their VALID identification documents!

Submitted by Jonathan on

Temp driver licenses and/or ID cards are not allowed anymore at the TSA check point. If you have a US. passport or foreign passport that should work better for the TSA officer. TSA just need to make sure you're the individual you say you are. My recommendation is to present your unexpired passport as a form of Identification.
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