Alaskans May Need U.S. Passports for Domestic Air Travel - P.O.W. Report

Friday, March 24, 2017

Alaskans May Need U.S. Passports for Domestic Air Travel

Unless Alaska is REAL ID-compliant, state driver’s licenses and IDs will not be accepted

March 23, 2017 JUNEAU—Starting June 6, Alaskans who work or live on U.S. military bases will not be able to gain unescorted entry using their Alaska driver’s licenses or any other form of state identification—if the legislature does not pass bills to ensure Alaska’s compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. Also, starting January, Alaskans will need a U.S. passport or other REAL ID Act-compliant forms of identification for domestic travel.

“Alaskans who want to visit family, attend a funeral or take a vacation will need a passport or federally approved form of identification to fly—even within Alaska and the rest of the United States—unless our state complies with federal REAL ID Act requirements,” Governor Walker said. “As it stands, residents in five non-compliant states are already being forced to use different forms of identification. Alaska should not be added to that list. For many, passports can be difficult and expensive to get. This legislation provides a cost-effective and flexible approach, giving Alaskans the option to get REAL ID-compliant licenses at a local DMV.”

In less than three months, Alaska’s extension from complying with the REAL ID Act expires. The REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005, requires states to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and other forms of identification. In 2008, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill barring the state from spending any funds to comply.

After January 22, Alaskans will need an alternate form of identification, like a passport, to go through Transportation Security Administration security for air travel—unless state laws are changed. Governor Walker introduced House Bill 74 and Senate Bill 34 to provide Alaskans with the option to get REAL ID Act-compliant driver’s licenses. Under this bill, Alaskans will have a choice whether or not they want to obtain identification that meets REAL ID Act standards.

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