As a result of the REAL ID Act, residents throughout the state of Pennsylvania are soon going to need new forms of identification in order to board flights for air travel as well as to enter all federal buildings. The REAL ID Act came about as a consequence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Act has a certain set of requirements for forms of identification, and Pennsylvania driver’s licenses will not meet those requirements.
The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 and affects states throughout the U.S. The overall goal of this Act is to improve safety throughout the country and to limit the ability of terrorists to go undetected. Many terrorists have used fraudulent forms of identification and so the Act tries to undermine this by requiring tamper and counterfeit resistant driver’s licenses.
The new requirements for entering federal buildings, like nuclear power plants, courts and military bases, will take effect on January 30th. By 2018, the new requirements for air travel will come into effect, assuming that PA is not granted another extension. When it comes to boarding planes, a form of identification such as a passport, permanent resident card or military identification would be sufficient. The Transportation Security Administration approves all of these types of identification; it is the job of this Administration to mandate which types of documents would be acceptable for travel while legitimizing someone’s identity.
In regard to entering federal facilities, however, each federal agency is able to determine which form of secure identification it will accept. This means that the type of IDs that Pennsylvania residents need to have to enter these facilities will vary based on each building’s individual requirements. It is important to know that if you are entering a federal facility to procure benefits or apply for them that you are exempt from needing a new form of secure identification. A state ID or license will remain sufficient.
Pennsylvania, among other states, had been granted extensions allowing it to remain non-compliant with the REAL ID Act in the past. These extension allowed PA to not require its residents to acquire other forms of identification for travel and entering federal buildings. PennDOT, the agency that oversees transportation and identification issues throughout the state of Pennsylvania, handles these requests. PennDOT submitted another request for an extension this year, but the Department of Homeland Security has not yet approved it. Because of this, Pennsylvania now is required to participate in the Act or provide sufficient reasons for non-compliance.
At this point, new forms of approved identification will be necessary for entering federal buildings within the month. And, if the Department of Homeland Security extends the ruling to disallow Pennsylvania to remain in non-compliance with the REAL ID Act, residents will need to procure new identification for boarding all commercial airplane flights by 2018. Some other states have been approved for extensions on non-compliance, so there is a possibility that Pennsylvania, too, will be allowed another. To be approved for an extension, however, Pennsylvania must provide legitimate reasons for why the state is unable to fulfill the new requirements and show proof that the commonwealth is actively trying to meet them.
Not everyone is in favor of the Act. Critics of it say that Pennsylvania needs to worry about other budget issues, and cites that lack of federal funding. There are privacy issues, as well; some feel the ID requirement is an invasion of citizen’s privacy. And, requiring people to get a new form of identification of course costs money. Without federal funding, states will be held financially responsible for implementation.
Pennsylvania has been non-compliant with some, but not all, of the requirements of the REAL ID Act. Some changes have been made to driver’s licenses through PennDOT, but a state law passed in 2011 forced PennDOT to remain non-compliant on other provisions of the Act. Pennsylvania issues millions of driver’s licenses annually for about $250 million dollars. If PA is required to be 100% compliant with the REAL ID Act, estimations say that the annual cost could increase by $50 million.
It remains unclear as to whether or not Pennsylvania will be granted another extension of non-compliance with the REAL ID Act. If Homeland Security grants the extension, we will update our blog.
If you have a legal question, call the Philadelphia personal injury law firm of Galfand Berger at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. We have been helping injured victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 70 years.