To fly domestically within the U.S., there are 16 forms of acceptable ID you can use to fly.

On May 7, 2025, this will change, as you will need REAL ID to fly, which is a federally recognized form of identification to help prevent fraudulent identification.

Accepted Forms of ID to Fly Domestic

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)

Airline Domestic Flight ID Requirements

Whether it’s your first time flying or not, you should know that 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, only one of the IDs listed above will let you fly domestically.

A Child Doesn’t Need ID to Fly

As long as a child (anyone who is under 18) is accompanied by an adult who has an acceptable form of ID to fly, they do not need any form of ID to fly domestically within the U.S.

A mother and her adopted child walking through the airport

However, the airline you are flying with, such as American Airlines, 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.

When is Real ID Required to Fly?

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 but will only come into effect on May 7, 2025, due to various roadblocks and the Covid pandemic.

From May 7, 2025, you will need a Real ID to fly domestically within the U.S., which can easily be recognized by a card being marked with a star.

Only if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., REAL ID is required.

A woman's driver's license with Real ID

Other forms of ID will also be acceptable to fly with, including a passport, passport card, Global Entry Card, as well as various forms of military ID and other government-issued IDs.

The forms of ID listed in the “Accepted Forms of ID to Fly Domestic” above will still be accepted.

If you can’t see a star on your driver’s license, this means that your ID is not REAL ID compliant, so you should contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain a REAL ID compliant card.

Note that Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, and New York states issue REAL ID and state-issued enhanced driver’s licenses, both of which are acceptable. Washington state issues enhanced driver’s licenses only.

State-issued enhanced driver’s licenses are marked with a flag.

You Can’t Fly With a Paper ID

According to the TSA, you cannot fly with a paper ID, as it is not considered an acceptable form of identification.

Nor With a Birth Certificate

You cannot fly with a birth certificate, as a birth certificate is not an acceptable form of identification to fly with according to the TSA.

A U.S. birth certificate issued by the Department of Health
A U.S. birth certificate issued by the Department of Health

But a birth certificate can be used together with other documents to confirm your identity.

And Not With a Picture of Your ID Either

You cannot fly with just a picture of your ID, as a picture is not considered to be an acceptable form of identification.

However, it can be useful to show the TSA to help prove your identity.

But an Expired License Might Be Okay

The TSA say that you can fly with an expired license under certain circumstances.

An expired driver license from California
An expired driver license from California

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.”

You Might Still Be Able to Fly if You Don’t Have an Acceptable Form of ID

If you don’t have an acceptable form of ID, this doesn’t necessarily that you won’t be able to fly.

If you have other documents that can help prove your identity, you may in fact still be able to fly.

This is because the TSA has other ways of confirming your identity by checking in existing databases.

You can help aid this process by bringing as many of the following to the airport to confirm 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

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.”

Make sure you get to the airport early due to the time this process will take.

You Need a Passport if Flying Internationally

If you are flying internationally, only a passport is an acceptable form of ID.

US passport resting on a global map

Children also need a passport to fly internationally, regardless if they are accompanied by an adult who has a passport.

A visa may also be required depending on the country you are flying to.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).