Keep in Mind These New Travel Rules As You Plan Your Next Event

Keep in Mind These New Travel Rules As You Plan Your Next Event

By now you may have heard the rumor that – if you live in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington State or American Samoa – you might need a passport to travel within the United States, which was initially scheduled to begin later this year but has now been postponed until 2018.

While there is some truth to the news, there are certain things you, as a conference organizer, need to know and important information that you should be communicating to your professional association’s members who travel to attend your events.

Most states have already begun the transition to more secure driver’s licenses, known as REAL IDs, but the states listed above have not yet taken measures to switch over. This can put residents at risk of having to produce a different form of ID for air travel.  Those in states where REAL IDs have already been adopted should also be aware, in the case that their license needs to be renewed or updated.

Homeland Security recently announced that the change in identification requirements will begin January 22, 2018. With a two year warning now in place, it is still recommended to begin informing conference goers of the impending new requirements so they can begin making arrangements. It is advisable to start mentioning this change to members as early this year (2016) for 2017 conferences so that, if they do not have a REAL ID, they will be able to present a valid alternative. In lieu of a passport document or enhanced ID, acceptable forms of identification include permanent resident cards, U.S. military IDs and DHS-trusted traveler cards.

The TSA will also accept State Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, which permit travel in the US, Mexico and Canada as well as serving as a license to drive. The only states where Enhanced Driver’s Licenses are currently available are Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington.

If you have yet to set a date for your conference, retreat, etc., this is simply something to keep in the back of your mind for when you begin your initial outreach and promotion of your event(s). No one wants to pay expediting fees either (which can quickly add up to more than $200 if certain information is needed the next day), so the more time given the better.

Throughout 2016, the TSA and Department of Homeland Security are increasing their outreach to the public through the internet, airport signage, and other methods. Beginning January 22, 2018, those without REAL IDs will need to show an alternative form of identification. Beginning October 1, 2020, all passengers will require a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for air travel.

Even if your members are aware of the impending changes to the law, some might forget. Be sure to let them know in plenty of time (and more than once) that, if they plan to buy a plane ticket to come to your U.S.-based event, they will need to have a valid ID.