If you are a meeting planner you have undoubtedly heard something regarding the Real ID Act and are wondering how it will impact your event. The extended due dates combined with circulating rumors have muddied the waters. Below is the latest on the upcoming requirements as well as how to help your travelers get ready.


The term “Real ID” may cause confusion, but the main difference between a REAL ID compliant license/ID Card and a standard license is that the application process is more rigorous and the card itself is harder to counterfeit. Standard licenses, while sufficient for general purposes, have been found lacking for airport security. The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 and requires that state-issued licenses meet certain security standards for federal use. The goal of the Real ID Act is to tighten up federal agency security decreasing the chances of terrorist attacks. After the law takes effect you will need a REAL ID compliant license/ID Card or an alternate form of identification for domestic flights.

Because this seems pretty straightforward, you might wonder why it has become so complicated. The Real ID Act is only required for federal agencies. States may choose not to comply with this law, but their licenses will not be valid for airport security. In some cases, individual states have laws in place that actually have kept them from implementing the standards required by the Real ID Act, which have understandably delayed the process. Currently, all fifty states are either compliant or have obtained an extension as they work towards compliancy. See below for the most recent deadlines.


  • January 22, 2018: States and territories that have not been issued an extension must show alternate identification to make it through airport security
  • October 11, 2018: On this date the current extension issued to a number of states will expire. Unless another extension is granted, travelers from these states will need to start showing alternate forms of identification, such as a passport.
  • October 1, 2020: Whether your state is compliant or not, standard licenses will no longer be accepted. Travelers must show REAL ID compliant license/ID Card or another form of identification.


Participants Unable to Travel 

If guidelines are not adhered to, members of your corporate meeting or incentive program might be prevented from traveling. Travelers might misunderstand the deadline or apply for a REAL ID compliant license/ID Card or passport too late.

What can a meeting planner do?

  • Make sure the deadlines for REAL ID compliant license/ID Card are clearly laid out. Travelers who hear the deadline of 2020 might be lulled into a false sense of security. Make sure it’s clear that there are different deadlines for states that are compliant versus states that received an extension.
  • Just because a state is compliant, it doesn’t automatically follow that their license is. The REAL ID compliant license/ID Card will not automatically be issued but must be applied for by each traveler. Urge your travelers not to wait until 2020 to get their REAL ID compliant license/ID Card.
  • Travelers from non-compliant states should make sure their passport is up to date, in case another extension is not granted.
  • Encourage travelers, even those who plan to travel domestically, to apply and receive a passport as an alternate form of identification. These travelers should bring their passport along with their ID, even if it is a REAL ID compliant license/ID Card, with them when traveling.

Airport Security Delays

As these new requirements are implemented there will be some delays at Airport Security. If not planned for, this could result in travelers missing their flights.

What can a meeting planner do?

  • Encourage your participants to allow extra time for security. While airlines encourage a two-hour arrival prior to departure time, travelers should allow an extra hour for security delays. In other words, inform your participants to arrive three hours before departure times.
  • Provide your group with information on how to apply for TSA PreCheck. If members of your group do not already use TSA PreCheck this might be a good time for them to obtain it.

Disastrous DIY Travel Plans

With all of the new rules and regulations, businesses that are attempting to cut some corners with in-house planning might come across nightmarish difficulties.  To ensure your meeting or incentive trip runs smoothly, consider outsourcing the planning to a professional company.  Outsourcing can provide an extra layer of security because these planners are familiar with the rules and regulations of the industry as they deal with them every day. This extra knowledge and expertise can help ensure that your travel incentive or corporate meeting plans aren’t delayed due to new regulations such as the Real ID Act.


While the upcoming deadlines for the Real ID Act might feel overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. What could be an insurmountable obstacle if put off to the last minute, is an easy fix if properly coordinated and planned. Make sure each of your travelers is aware of their state’s compliancy and get them started on the process of applying for their REAL ID compliant license/ID Card and/or their passport.

If you’re planning travel for an incentive program or for a corporate meeting, contact Gavel International to learn how working with us can simplify the process.