The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, that establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins on October 1, 2020.
And, yes you can use your VA issued ID card in place of it. In fact, there are at least 15 different forms of ID that are accepted by the TSA. Here’s the official list from tsa.gov:
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
- Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
- Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
If that’s not enough, there are also other acceptable forms of ID, including credit cards, a student ID and even a library card! While we wouldn’t recommend showing up at the airport without one of the officially accepted forms of ID, if you find yourself stuck, you might at least take a look at what other cards are in your wallet.
And don’t forget that if all else fails, you can fly without ID. However, doing so requires completing TSA paperwork to supply additional identifying information, subjecting yourself to possible additional screening and leaving yourself plenty of extra time at the airport to accomplish all that.