The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs recently introduced the REAL ID Act Modernization Act (S. 4133), a bipartisan bill that would make several enhancements to the REAL ID Act of 2005, many of which U.S. Travel has advocated.

The U.S. Travel Association has long maintained that without security, there can be no travel. While the REAL ID Act was introduced with the goal of strengthening national security, technology has progressed in the past 15 years, necessitating key changes across the entire REAL ID program.  

Several of the bill’s important policy changes, which mirror U.S. Travel’s own recommendations:

  • Allow electronic and mobile driver’s licenses
  • Provide DMVs flexibility for photograph collection
  • Eliminate the documentation requirements for Social Security numbers and permanent addresses
  • Allow electronic submission of required information
  • Extend grants to states for conforming with standards
  • Require airlines and booking portals to communicate ID requirements to travelers

Last October, U.S. Travel Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes testified before a Senate subcommittee that Congress would need to make several enhancements to REAL ID to ensure enforcement would not disrupt air travel and to make use of technological advances to strengthen security.

Further, the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on global travel underscores the urgency behind these changes, as there cannot be any hindrances to the airline industry’s eventual recovery. We supported the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) March 2020 decision to delay the REAL ID enforcement deadline until 2021, and a further extension should be granted until DHS can quantitatively ensure that enforcement will not disrupt travel or the recovery process.

U.S. Travel applauds Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) for leading on this issue, and urges Congress to act quickly to deliver a smoother, safer and more expedient recovery process for the travel industry and the entire American economy.