Ask CheapAir: I lost my ID, but am traveling today. What do I do?

If you travel frequently, no doubt you are in the routine of making sure you have identification with you for getting through airport security. But it’s not uncommon to hear the story of someone who forgets to take their ID to the airport, or loses it altogether. People often ask us, “Does that mean I am stranded and can’t fly?”

Well, the short answer is: not likely.

I lost my ID, but am traveling today. What do I do?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) openly acknowledges that travelers are bound to make these types of mistakes from time to time. On their website they state, “If passengers are willing to provide additional information, we have other means of substantiating someone’s identity, like using publicly available databases.” If they are able to verify your identity using their databases, then you’re likely good to proceed, though you may have to also go through additional security screening as well.

In fact, our own CEO and founder, Jeff Klee, went through this process a few years ago at San Francisco International Airport. He had lost his wallet, but proceeded to the airport in hopes that he could still catch his flight home. A TSA supervisor took Jeff to a back room where he had to sign a waiver to allow them to access his personal information from a database. He then was asked several questions, like address, date of birth, names of relatives, etc. to verify that he really was who he said he was. TSA then called his answers into a hotline, and just 20 minutes later, Jeff was able to proceed through security.

As a refresher, here’s TSA’s list of acceptable IDs to show at the airport:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS “Trusted Traveler” cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DOD civilians)
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Border Crossing Card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Drivers Licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • Native American Tribal Photo ID
  • An airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • A foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) card
  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)
  • Non-US/Canadian citizens are not required to carry their passports if they have documents issued by the U.S. government such as Permanent Resident Cards. Those who do not should be carrying their passports while visiting the U.S.

Have you shown up at the airport without your ID? If so, what was your experience like?


  1. your price on 368 round trip from lubbock tx to lasvagas nv like to go 03/27/2013 to 03/31/2013

    • Hi James,

      We’d be happy to help you find flights. Currently, prices for those dates are starting at $610.80 total, per person, not including any baggage fees that may apply. Please let us know if you need any assistance with booking.

  2. need a copy of receipt for flights in Jan
    orlando to richmond, va
    1/22/13 and return 1/24/1

    address: 710 whitehall beach rd
    annapolis, md 21409


    • Hi Charles,

      We were unable to pull up a reservation with your name or e-mail address. What is your 10 digit booking number?

  3. I lost my Id and all identification I fly tomorrow what do I do?

    • Hi Chris,

      Don’t worry. You should still be able to travel. Not having an ID does not necessarily mean a passenger won’t be allowed to fly. If passengers are willing to provide additional information, the TSA has other means of substantiating someone’s identity, like using publicly available databases. I’d make sure to show up to the airport early enough to take care of this.

      • hi

        actually i forget my PR card and then after security check delhi airport let me travel and my stay is at abu dabi. will they let me travel too. i am so worried.

        • Hi Shaman,

          I would recommend to contact the airline you are traveling on. If they allowed you to fly there, then I don’t suspect they’ll deny you on your return flight, but to be safe I would contact them directly.

  4. I fly in May, and my ID is expired and i have to order a new birth certificate to get a new ID because my old ID expired and i am beyond worried that i won’t be able to fly. I keep reading that i would but i am overly cautious with everything and don’t want to chance not being able to because everything is non refundable. I won’t have an ID card on time either because of ordering a birth certificate. I still have my expired ID and an expired military ID. I have a ssc as well. Should i call ahead and say i won’t have an ID? Should i bring my expired ones? Would it matter if i did?

    • Hi Kris,

      If you are traveling domestically in the U.S., I’d recommend bringing your expired IDs and any documentation you can. It would be wise to show up at the airport with enough time to handle the matter prior to your departing flight. If traveling internationally, then that’s a completely different story. You can contact the airline you are flying to notify them ahead of time as they may direct you to bring another form of ID.

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