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Can You Fly With An Expired License? | Don't Make This #1 Mistake

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    Jonathan Chum

So, you are packing all the stuff for your flight the next day, and you realize your driver's license is no longer valid. It's a panic moment, and the first question that pops up on your mind is, can you fly with an expired license? Yes, you can fly with an expired driver's license as long as you can prove your identity at the security checkpoint. However, there are a few things you should know.

Valid Identification for Airport Security

According to the TSA, a government-issued ID card is needed to board a plane. The most commonly used form of ID is the driver's license. But, there are various other forms of identification you can use instead of your driver's license. If your driver's license has expired, you can still travel if you manage to prove your identity. You can use any form of government-issued ID card listed below.

  • US Passport
  • Driver's License or Photo ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • US Passport Card
  • Border Crossing Card
  • DHS trusted traveler card (NEXUS, Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI)
  • DHS enhanced driver's license
  • Permanent resident Card
  • HSPD- 12 PIV Card
  • Federal Photo ID
  • Foreign Government-issued Passport
  • Transportation worker Identifcaiton credential
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Nothern Affairs Canada Card
  • US Department of Defense ID, including dependents IDs
  • US merchant Mariner Credential
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization card (I-766)

As long as you can produce any of the above verification documents, you will be allowed to pass the airport security smoothly. Considering the worst-case scenario when you arrive at the airport with an expired driver's license and no other form of identification, you may still be allowed to fly. When failed to submit any valid ID, the TSA officer will ask you to complete an identity verification process by collecting information such as your name, address, and other personal information. If your identity is confirmed, they will allow you to the next screening checkpoint where you would be subject to additional screening, including a Pat down procedure and thorough baggage check.

The identity verification process will involve completing some forms and being questioned by the TSA agents. You will be asked to show other identifications like Credit cards, birth certificate, work badges or ID, library cards, utility bills, proof of insurance, etc. and will confirm the same with your details in their public database. It is up to the TSA agent whether or not they will allow you to fly. The same procedure will be carried out, in case you lose your ID and have a flight to catch.

Plan on getting to the airport significantly earlier than you usually do as additional screening will take some time. Bring as many other photo IDs as possible and remember, you will have a special Pat Down procedure.

There are occasions when TSA may not notice the license is expired and will let you pass. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are currently accepting an expired license or passport that is less than 12 months past the expiration date. For more details, you can check this TSA blog.

But, it is recommended to either renew the driver's license online or bring some other form of identification with you. A passport is a universal authentication that will let you prove your identity. If you have a valid passport, you will never be asked a second form of identification.

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How to Renew Driver's License?

If your license expired at least a day before your travel and you can't visit the DMV office, you may be able to renew your driver's license online. You can print off a temporary license or proof of renewal to show at the airport security, Bring your expired license as well if you are planning to bring proof of renewal. It is not an accepted identification form, but you will be able to convince them to allow you to pass. For online renewal, create an account on your respective DMV website.

If you are planning to visit the DMV, you should apply for the REAL ID instead.

What is Real ID?

REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 by Congress. The Real ID will have new and superior security standards for issuance of driver's license, and you will need it for boarding a domestic flight, accessing federal facilities, and entering Nuclear Power plants. This Act will establish a minimum set of security standards required for identification and will restrict Federal agencies from accepting licenses from states that do not meet these minimum security standards.

Do you need a Real ID to fly now?

No, you don't need to have a Real ID to travel now. Initially, the Real ID Act enforcement date was October 1st, 2020. But, the uncertainty and delay in the issuance of Real IDs due to COVID-19 Pandemic, they had to shift the enforcement date to October 1st, 2021.

Even when the Real ID Act is enacted, you can use your passport or certain other federal documents as an alternative to Real-ID compliant state-issued ID.

How to apply for Real ID?

If you don't have a Real ID, we recommend you to get one. You will be able to board domestic flights and enter most military bases and federal agencies. As of now, you have to visit the DMV to get the Real ID. However, you can fill out the application online and plan your visit to the DMV office to complete the process. You can apply for Real ID online on the respective DMV website. You are required to bring the following documents for Real ID:

  • A legal identification document such as your passport
  • Your Social security document
  • Name change documents in case of a legal name change
  • Two Residency Documents.

If you have an expired Real ID, you may be able to renew it online, depending on your state.

International travel with Expired License

When you fly internationally, you must have a valid passport. It is the only authorized form of government identification for international travel. Also, the passport needs to have at least 90 dates of validity before the expiration. For some countries and flights such as Delta, the passport expiration date should be at least six months from the final travel date. There may also be certain restrictions on the number of remaining blank pages you have on your passport.

While you can carry the expired license with you, you will not be allowed to drive or rent a car. Most of the car rental companies around the world ask for an updated driver's license before renting you a car. You will also face problems while presenting your expired license as identification in the hotels. So, you should consider renewing it before your next international travel.

Can I travel with an expired Passport?

No, you can't travel with an expired passport for international flights. If you are flying internationally, you need a valid passport. If your passport is expired or lost, you need to get it renewed or replaced. For domestic travel, you can use some other form of identification as you don't require a passport, only a valid ID proof.

How to renew your passport if it's expired?

If your passport has expired or will expire in a few months, you should get it renewed. If your travel date is fast approaching, you can opt for the expedited service of the US Department of State travel. The processing time is reduced to 72 hours than the standard processing time of up to 6 weeks. You will need to add an expedite fee of $60 to the standard application fee. If your travel plans are coming up soon, you need to present the proof of travel to expedite your renewal process. The Department of State offers a renewal of passport through the mail if the travel plan is coming up in less than three weeks. You can also opt for quick delivery of 1-2 days by paying an additional delivery service fee.

You can check this for the standard renewal process. Due to the COVID-19 situation, there have been significant delays in the renewal of the US Passport.

What if the passport expired while you're abroad?

First of all, you can't travel with a passport valid for less than 90 days from the return date. So, the chances of your passport getting expired while you are abroad are pretty low. Airline Staff checks your passport very carefully before allowing you to travel. However, if you are abroad and plan to extend your stay, you can visit the local US consulate to renew your passport. Check all the local US Consulate here.

If you are already outside of the US, there is no option for expediting your renewal process. You have to wait for the standard processing time of 4 to 6 weeks. If your passport expiration date is approaching, apply for the renewal process before leaving the country. Passport expiration rules are different for each country, and you may want to check it when your passport expiration is nearing.


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