It’s common for people to only have a paper ID, such as a temporary driver’s license, as their main form of identification when their real ID has been lost or stolen.
According to the TSA, you cannot fly with a paper ID, as it is not considered an acceptable form of identification.
Can You Fly With a Paper ID?
Even if you’re only flying domestically, a paper ID is not an acceptable form of identification to fly with.
We list acceptable forms of identification for domestic travel within the USA below.
If you’re flying internationally, then a paper ID definitely won’t cut it, even if you can prove your identification in other ways.
When flying internationally, a passport is always required.
Depending on the country you are traveling to, a visa may also be required.
Airlines follow TSA regulations.
So regardless if you’re flying with Delta, Southwest, Spirit, United, American Airlines, or any other regional or major air carrier, a paper ID will not be allowed as your main form of identification to fly with.
What Forms of Identification Are Acceptable to Fly With?
The TSA state that the following forms of ID are acceptable to fly with:
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Permanent resident card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Border crossing card
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- 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)
Can You Fly With an Expired License?
The TSA say that you can fly with an expired license under certain cistumstances.
The TSA state that:
“If your driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint.
TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued ID a year after expiration.”
Can You Fly With a Birth Certificate?
While a birth certificate cannot be used as your primary form of ID to fly, it can be used together with other documents to confirm your identity.
So, while a birth certificate will not allow you to fly, it may be useful to travel with if your ID was lost or stolen.
Can You Fly With a Picture of Your ID?
A picture of your ID alone will not be enough to fly with.
A photocopy or a digital scan of your ID can be useful to help prove your identity, though.
What Can You Do If You Only Have a Paper ID?
If you only have a paper ID, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to fly, even though the TSA state it isn’t an acceptable form of ID.
If you have other documents that can help prove your identity, you may in fact still be able to fly.
If you only have a paper ID, you can use the following to help prove your identity:
- A credit card, a business card with your photo on it
- Mail or prescription medication with your name and address on the label
- Utility bills
- A library card
- Work security badges
- Voter registration
- Birth certificate
- Expired forms of other ID (if applicable)
- Photos of your ID
It can also be a good idea to fill a police report if your ID has been stolen, as you can bring the police report to the airport to help your case.
The TSA has other ways of confirming your identity by checking in existing databases, but you will definitely want another form of ID or documentation that can help prove your identity.
According to the TSA:
“A TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity.”
In such cases, you will be subject to additional screening, to include a patdown and screening of carry-on property.
You should also arrive at least two hours before your flight due to the time the process will take.
Do Children Need ID to Fly?
As long as a child (someone who is under 18) is flying domestically within the U.S. and is accompanied by an adult who has an acceptable form of ID, kids do not need any form of ID to fly.
However, the airline you are flying with may ask you to show proof of the child’s age.
It’s therefore a good idea to travel with a copy of the child’s birth certificate.