What's a passport card, and can it replace a Real ID?

ByMichael Finney WTVD logo
Saturday, February 15, 2020
What's a passport card, and can it replace a Real ID?
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If you're not inclined to take the time to get a Real ID, here's a lesser-known alternative.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Here's why most people don't have a Real ID license: long lines at the DMV.

The Real ID Act kicks in Oct. 1, meaning Americans must have proper identification in order to fly on commercial aircraft.

But does this mean those without Real ID-compliant license or ID won't be allowed to fly?

Turns out, a Real ID driver's license isn't necessary with the right documentation, starting with a passport.

"I am not personally recommending that people bring their passport to the TSA checkpoint for domestic flights," said TSA's Lorie Dankers. "The risk of losing or damaging your passport is too great."

VIDEO: Here's what other IDs you can use to fly if you don't have a Real ID.

Dankers said a passport card is often a better way to go.

A passport card is the same size as a driver's license, so it can easily slide into wallets. It is a sort of "passport lite."

Jared Tharp, a representative from Passport Services at the U.S. Department of State, said the passport card is easy to carry and is acceptable identification for domestic flights and more.

"The use for a card is generally for land and sea travels, so you wouldn't be able to board an international flight using a passport card," Tharp said. "A passport book would be good for everything."

The price is right, too -- way cheaper than a regular passport.

"If we are talking about a passport book generally for an adult, the books cost $110," he said. "If you are talking about a card for an adult, the cost is $30."

VIDEO: Here's how you can tell whether or not your driver's license is a Real ID.

For adults, the card is good for 10 years, just like a passport book.

"I think when people know they have options, it is not just one thing, it's multiple possibilities, knowing that it gives you the ability to do the best for you," Dankers said.