Domestic Travel Documents
Domestic travel document requirements are often less involved than their international travel document counterparts. There are multiple ID options to choose from as an adult, but different standards do apply to individuals under the age of 18, as noted below.
At the present time, the ID presented by an adult to board a domestic flight should be one of the following:
For children under the age of 14:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that children under 14 are not required to present any form of ID at TSA checkpoints. However, some airlines may require a minor under 14 to show a birth certificate for proof of age. In any event, it’s wise to carry a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate to avoid complications.
For children between the ages of 15 to 17:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that minors aged 15 to 17 are not required to present any form of ID at TSA checkpoints. However, unlike children 14 and under, many individual airlines do require some form of photo ID in addition to a birth certificate as proof of age for children 15 to 17 years of age. In most circumstances, School IDs or Library cards are usually acceptable, but since each airline has different rules for this standard it’s best to check with the airline.
The Real ID Act sets forth regulations pertaining to security, authentication and issuance procedures surrounding state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs which was implemented by Congress in May 2005. This Act requires that state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses be accepted by the Federal Government for official purposes (including boarding commercial airline flights, entering federal establishments and entering nuclear power plants) as defined by Homeland Security. This Act denies the use of state-issued IDs and licenses for use in official purposes from states that do not meet, or are not compliant with, these federal standards.
At present, the timeline for complete compliance to the Real ID Act does not take place until 2018, when every state must follow the standards set forth by Homeland Security. If a state is not compliant by that time, the IDs and licenses issued by that state will not be accepted, and other compliant identification will be required – such as a valid U.S. Passport. Learn more about Real ID.
Birth certificates are issued by the state, county or local municipality where an individual was born and are an official record of that individual’s birth. A birth certificate proves a person’s identity and citizenship as well as where and when they were born. If you don’t already know, you’ll soon discover that a certified birth certificate is needed for most legal purposes you’ll encounter throughout your lifetime, such as:
Obtaining your birth certificate, or the certificate of an immediate family member, can be done in a variety of ways, depending upon the record availability and ordering regulations of the issuing agency:
Please Note: If ordering a birth certificate for a child born less than 6 months ago, you may need to request it from your county’s health department instead of the vital records office. Check ahead to make sure you know the correct agency to order through, as each state may have different rules and regulations.
Passports and Passport Cards
A passport is a certified government document that provides proof of one’s identity and/or citizenship. This document allows travel abroad and re-admittance to a traveler’s home country. Getting a U.S. passport and keeping it current can save you time, money and comes in handy for last-minute trips!
A U.S. passport is required for U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and all international destinations including countries in the Western Hemisphere, such as the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, etc.
What’s the difference between a U.S. passport book and a U.S. passport card?
A visa is authorization by a government to enter and stay within their country under certain conditions, usually with a set time limit and parameters surrounding the reasons for the visit. Visas are stamped in an individual’s passport, or other legal travel document, to signify they have permission to enter and travel to and/or within a specific country.
Depending on the location being visited, reason and length of your trip, a travel visa may be required for both entry into and exit from the country you plan on visiting. While not every international destination requires a visa, there are over 270 countries offering visas to the citizens of the U.S., and several different types of visas attainable, depending on your reason for travel.
There are several different types of visas for travelers; however, the two most common are for personal travel or tourism, and for business travel.
To acquire any type of visa, you’ll first need to determine if a government requires a visa to gain entry to their country. There are many countries that are visa-free and do not require a visa to enter or travel within that country. A great resource to learn the most up-to-date information about whether a visa is required is U.S. Department of State’s site.
To apply for a visa, you must either go through the local consulate or embassy of your desired destinations, or you can use a visa expediting service. You should learn what the visa requirements are at your destinations before contacting them since each country will have their own visa regulations and procedures.