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.
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?