A passport is just for international travel, right? Wrong. You might think your driver’s license is all you need as ID when you are traveling inside the United States… but that’s wrong, too. Your valid US Passport is an essential proof of your identity and citizenship, and may be necessary for many purposes right here in the United States. Read on for some of the reasons you may need to use your US Passport Book or Passport Card within the United States.
You May Need a Passport to… Get a Driver’s License
The REAL ID Act of 2005 set national standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. In order to get a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, you now need to show conclusive proof of your identity and citizenship. If you have a valid passport, this will be easy. If you don’t have a passport, you’ll need to provide a lot more documents in order to get your driver’s license.
You May Need a Passport to… Board a Domestic Flight
Starting in 2016, you will need to show REAL ID compliant identification in order to get through TSA security to board both domestic and international flights. If you are flying internationally, you will have to have a Passport Book, but even for domestic flights, you may need to pull out your Passport Book or Passport Card. Residents of Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York are particularly affected, as their states don’t yet issue REAL ID driver’s licenses. If you live in any other state, you may need to use a passport if you haven’t renewed your driver’s license in several years and still have a non-REAL ID license. You can check your license by looking to see if there is a star in one of the upper corners. If you don’t have a star, you’re going to need your passport to get on your flight!
You May Need a Passport to… Buy Alcohol
You’re probably used to pulling out your driver’s license to prove your age when you order a glass of merlot at a restaurant or pick up a six-pack of beer at the convenience store. However, you may run into problems if you are a twenty-something who still has a vertical driver’s license. Some states, like New Mexico or Arizona, have a “vertical license ban” that forbids them from selling alcohol to anyone with a vertical driver’s license, even if the birthdate shows that you are over 21.
We have also heard about travelers from smaller jurisdictions like the District of Columbia who have been denied alcohol when traveling in the US. Store clerks in other states weren’t familiar enough with the license to be certain it was real.
Your passport is conclusive proof of your age… we’ll toast to that!