Can You Fly Without an ID?


What happens if you lose your ID and need to fly for a work trip? Or your driver’s license expired and you’re due for a bachelorette weekend in Miami with your best gals? Fortunately, you don’t have to stay home because flying without an ID is a viable option in some cases.

That said, as Real ID regulations loom, getting on a plane without an ID won’t be possible indefinitely.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to fly without an ID.

Acceptable forms of ID at the TSA checkpoint

If you’re taking a domestic flight within the United States, you can use the following forms of identification when getting through security administered by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration:

  • Driver’s license or state identity card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

  • State-issued driver’s license or state-issued ID.

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler cards (i.e. Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri, Fast).

  • U.S. Department of Defense ID.

  • Permanent resident card (Green Card).

  • An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe

  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 Personal Identity Verification Card (HSPD-12 PIV card).

  • Foreign government-issued passport.

  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card.

  • Transportation worker identification credential.

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766).

  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential.

  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC).

Starting May 7, 2025, your state-issued driver’s license or ID card must be Real ID compliant if you are 18 or older and plan to travel domestically. To find out whether your ID card or driver’s license is Real ID compliant, contact your local department of motor vehicles.

Note that a temporary driver’s license or a weapon permit are not acceptable forms of identification at a TSA checkpoint.

What happens if you fly without an ID

If for any reason you have left your preferred form of identification in your other purse, lost it, or it’s been stolen, and you don’t have any other approved form of ID on you, there is no need to return home and unpack your bags just yet. Flying without an ID is an option.

The TSA officer may ask you to verify some or all of the following information to confirm your identity:

  • Other personal information.

You’ll also be subject to additional screening, such as a pat down, and your carry-on items will be examined thoroughly.

If you choose to decline the identity verification process, you will not be allowed to fly.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you do not have a valid form of ID, arrive at the airport well ahead of your flight’s departure to allow yourself extra time for the additional screening.

During this process, stay cool, calm and collected. The officers are just doing their job to make sure you are who you say you are.

If you’re flying internationally, you won’t be able to enter another country without a passport, so this procedure applies only to domestic flights within the United States.

What if your ID is expired?

If you forgot to renew your driver’s license before your birthday and that’s what you brought to the airport with you, don’t worry. TSA will accept an expired ID up to one year after expiration.

Can you fly without a Real ID?

But as of May 7, 2025, every state and U.S. territory resident will need to present a Real ID, unless you’re using an alternative form of ID from an approved list of documents to verify your identity.

Passengers who turn up at the airport without a Real ID, or an approved alternate, will not be allowed to go through a security checkpoint, so it’s important your form of ID is compliant with the regulation.

Are you enrolled in Clear membership?

Clear Plus uses your biometrics, such as a fingerprint or an eye scan, for the identity-verification portion of airport security. You can use the service without having to show an ID.

Clear is a paid membership that requires enrolling and scanning your biometrics to confirm your identity. Once you’re verified and you pay the membership fee, you can use Clear kiosks at nearly 60 U.S. airports and select sports and entertainment venues to expedite the security process.

Clear membership costs $189 per year with an option to add family members for $99 per person. You can add up to three adults to your account. These members can travel with you or separately from you and be able to use their membership at locations with Clear kiosks. Children 17 and younger may join you in the Clear lane.

Flying without a photo ID recapped

If you’re at the airport wondering, “Can I get on a plane without an ID?,” the answer is yes, but only if you’re flying domestically.

On May 7, 2025, when the Real ID regulations are scheduled to kick in, you won’t be permitted to get through TSA without a valid form of identification, so check your driver’s license to make sure it’s Real ID compliant.

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