Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Department of Homeland Security
Cailey Rizzo
February 23, 2017

Since Real ID was announced in 2015, it has caused confusion among travelers. When signage began appearing at the end of last year, confusion among some travelers increased even more. And it’s understandable why.

The program is meant to increase national security by setting a standard that each state-issued ID must meet by Jan. 22, 2018. At the moment, there are only 24 states that meet this standard. And, as noted on the signs in airports, there are nine states that do not (Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington).

However, that leaves a third group of states. The rules here are a bit more vague—they’re states which may or may not meet the standard.

One traveler just wrote to the Los Angeles Times to ask if his newly-renewed California license will continue to pass TSA standards. The short answer is yes. And the long answer is yes, maybe.

California is one of 19 states that has been given an extension to meet national ID security standards. Until Oct. 1, 2020, travelers with IDs issued from these states will be able to use them at the airport. After that point, it is yet unclear if state-issued IDs will continue to work. Residents of these “yellow” states are encouraged to keep checking in with the Department of Homeland Security to see the status of their state’s ID process.

However, for those who feel a bit nervous about waiting for a 2020 deadline, remember that traveling with a federally issued ID (such as a passport, military ID, or permanent resident card) will alleviate all individual state ID questions.

To find out the rules of a specific state, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s map.

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