PassPorter Online
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
Articles Menu
PassPorter Articles
Disney Dreaming
What Keeps Us Coming Back
Disney for Veteran Visitors
Rumor Round-Up
Finding Answers
Best Disney Trip Advice
Getting Your Disney Fix
How Young Is Too Young?
Top Ten Disney Questions
Tipping (Gratuities)
Timeshare Vacation Offers
Disney World on a Budget
Credit Cards 101
Money-Saving Strategies
Preparing Kids For Disney
Taking Toddlers to Disney
Planning Trips for Others
Convincing Others To Go
Importance of Being Lazy

Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
Ten "Must Pack" Items
Touring With A Group
Chaperoning A Group Trip
Ten Travel Tips
Luggage Tips
iPhone, I Travel
Driving to Disney
Driving With Kids
Child Safety Seats
CARES Harness Review
Rental Cars
Amtrak Auto Train
Airline Security
Flying With Kids
Surviving Long Flights
Surviving Bumpy Flights
Surviving Bad Vacations
Surviving Long Airport Waits
Staying Healthy
First Aid on Vacation
Solo Travel
Pregnant at Disney
Dress For Travel
Traveling With Pets
International Travel
Taking A 'Greener' Trip to WDW

Orlando Sanford Airport
Choosing a Resort
On-Site Lodging vs. Off-Site Lodging
Disney Resort Primer
Reserving a Room
Key to the World Card
Fun at Resort Hotels
Disney Vacation Club
All-Star Movies
All-Star Music
All-Star Sports
All-Star Vacation Homes
Animal Kingdom Lodge: Perfect for Teens
Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Beach Club
BoardWalk Inn & Villas
Contemporary Resort
Ft. Wilderness Camping
Old Key West
Wilderness Lodge
Home Sweet Home
Grand Californian #1
Grand Californian #2
Grosvenor Resort
Hilton Resort
Orlando Airport Marriott
Radisson Resort Parkway
Shades of Green
Westin Century Plaza
Making The Most of Bell Services at Disney's Deluxe Resorts
DVC's Old Key West Resort
Preparing For Your Disney Cruise
New Ships!
Cruise Security
International Port Security
Convincing a Husband to Cruise
Palo Dinner Review
Vow Renewals Onboard
Cruising With Special Diets
Cruising St. Martin
One in a Million Cruise
Zip-A-Dee-Zip-Line: A Canopy Adventure
A 'Magic' Time In The Mediterranean
A Wrap-Up From DCL's Inaugural Mediterranean Cruise
DCL: Not Just for Kids!
Spa Villas Review
Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Mickey's PhilharMagic
Fantasyland For Adults
Mission: SPACE
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Star Wars Weekends
Animal Kingdom
Expedition EVEREST
Surviving the Parks as First Time Parents
Surviving the Holidays
Overcoming Kids Fears
Planning Park Days
Four Parks in One Day
Touring with Toddlers
A Kid's Perspective
A Teen's Take
Educational Epcot
Flower & Garden Festival
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Scary Places (Halloween)
Playing "Millionaire"
Winning "Millionaire"
A Day With Allie
Past Attractions at Magic Kingdom
Meeting Mickey
Disneyland at 50
Future of Disneyland
Beyond the Disney Parks
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Monorail System
California Adventure
Expanding Disney's California Adventure
10 Reasons to Love Disneyland
A WDW Veteran's First Trip to Disneyland
A Disneyland Veteran's First Trip to Walt Disney World
Disneyland Homecoming
Walt Disney World With Pre-Teen Boys
Keys To The Kingdom Backstage Tour
Pirates & Princess Party
WDW with Teens? Absolutely!
Disney Dining Plan
More Dining Plan Tips
Dining Plan Revisited
Dining Plan Answers
Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) Strategies
Artist Point Review
California Grill Review
Nine Dragons Review
Spoodles Review
The Turf Club Review
Crystal Palace Review
Yak & Yeti Review
Tutto Italia Review
Character Dinners
Dine With A Disney Imagineer
Eating Healthy at Disney
Food Allergies
White Water Snacks
MurderWatch Mystery Theatre
Disneyland Dining: Yamabuki
Disneyland Area Dining: Pirate's Dinner Adventure
Party For The Senses
Artist Point
1900 Park Fare Dinner Review
Making Magic
Romance At Disney World
Beating The Post Trip Blues
Discovering the Magic
Magic of Slowing Down
Unexpected Treasures
Wishes Fireworks Cruise
Backstage Tours
Epcot's Segway Tour
Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival
Taking Great Photos
Taking Great Fireworks Photos
Digital Photo Q & A
Souvenirs on a Budget
Pal Mickey
Birthdays at Disney
Reunions and Gatherings
Holidays (Christmas)
More Holidays
Disney Intimate Weddings
Disney Vow Renewals
Custom Events
Preserving Memories
Scrapbooking Supplies
Finding Scrapbook Supplies at WDW
Memories and Milestones
Scavenger Hunts
Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys Book Review
Richard Petty Experience
More Richard Petty Rides
Ft. Wilderness Trail Ride
Disney Podcasts
MouseFest 2006
Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba
Making of PassPorter
Rest of the World
United States:
Big Apple Greeter
City Pass Cards
Hilton Head Island #1
Hilton Head Island #2
Celebration, Florida
Key Largo & Islamorada
Miami, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
Space Coast, Florida
Tampa-St. Petersburg
WonderWorks (Orlando)
Knoebels, Pennsylvania
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Anza-Borrego Desert
Grand Canyon
The Poconos
New York City
New York Splash Tours
New York City Dining
New York: Antiques
New England
New Orleans
Nashville, Tennessee
Adventures by Disney: Wyoming
Fort Sumter, South Carolina
Zoos of the World
Universal Studios Orlando
New Attractions at Universal Orlando
Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Universal Orlando
Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Universal: For Non-Thrill Seekers?
Madison County, Iowa
The Great Smoky Mountains
Discovery Cove (Orlando)
Busch Gardens Africa: SheiKra Coaster Review
NASCAR AllState 400
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Niagara Falls, New York
Blue Horizons at SeaWorld Orlando
International Travel:
London Museums
London's Globe Theatre
Kent, England
Bath, England
Great Britain via Harry Potter
Stockholm, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland
Quebec City, Canada
Prince Edward Island
South Africa
Leeds Castle
Windsor Castle
Dover Castle
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Photo ID, Passports, REAL ID -- What You Need To Know

by Dave Marx, PassPorter Author

(Revised 4/3/2008)

"Will we need passports to fly to Walt Disney World?" Recent news stories, blogs, and message board postings have raised this surprising possibility. We've sifted through mounds of information so we can clarify the current state of travel ID for both domestic U.S. travel and international travel to and from the U.S.

The short answer is "No, you won't need a passport to go to Walt Disney World." The long answer is ... complicated. Read on.

Domestic Air Travel

The REAL ID Act is a 2005 Federal law intended to enhance the security of photo ID used at Federal facilities. Since "Federal facilities" includes aircraft regulated by the FAA, this law affects all domestic air travel. By May 11, 2008 state-issued photo ID is required to comply with the REAL ID Act or it will not be accepted for air travel, access to Federal buildings, etc. Don't panic! "In compliance" for now only means the state has asked for and received an extension of time to meet those requirements. As of April 2, 2008, every state and U.S. jurisdiction has applied for and receivd extensions. So this means that state-issued photo ID will be accepted for domestic air travel at least until December 31, 2009, when those extensions expire (additional extensions may be granted, although some states probably won't need them). Federally-issued ID already complies with the law, so U.S. Passport Books and Passport Cards can also be used for domestic air travel. (The U.S. Department of State, which issues U.S. passports, now calls traditional passports "Passport Books" to distinguish them from the new "Passport Card.")

International Travel

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a federal law that ultimately will require a valid passport to enter the U.S. by air, land, or sea. The law's requirements have been modified several times over the past few years, but final rules were issued on March 28, 2008, so further changes are unlikely for now:

Air Travel: Since January 23, 2007, a valid passport has been required for all air travel to the U.S. (A Passport Card cannot be used; U.S. citizens need a Passport Book.)

Land & Sea Travel: Since January 31, 2008, U.S. citizens have needed to present either:
1. a passport (Passport Book or Passport Card)
2. a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) plus proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate) for land and sea entry to the U.S. from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada, and Mexico. (Passports already were required for re-entry from the rest of the world.) Oral declarations of citizenship are no longer accepted.

June 30, 2009: A valid passport or equivalent (Passport Book, Passport Card, Enhanced Driver's License, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST) will be required for all land and most sea entry into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda (a passport is already required for sea entry from other parts of the world).

A special exception has been granted to cruise ships on round-trip itineraries departing and returning to the same U.S. port. Adult U.S. and Canadian citizens will be able to continue using a government-issued photo ID plus birth certificate for the forseeable future. Children will only need to present a birth certificate.

PassPorter's Recommendations:

Our first concern is that travelers be prepared for whatever comes their way. We recommend you get a full U.S. passport (Passport Book) as soon as you can, as that is the most universally-acceptable form of travel ID.

U.S. Passport Book -- As far as we're concerned, this is the one ID to have. It's the most universally accepted ID for international and domestic travel. Anything less is a false economy. Get it done, and be prepared for any last-minute travel opportunities that may come your way. April in Paris, or a ski weekend in Whistler, anyone?

Passport Card -- Yes, it's less than half the cost of a regular passport, but it's less than half as useful, too. For example, if you're on a Caribbean cruise and must fly back to the U.S. in an emergency, the Passport Card will not be valid ID (although Customs and Border Protection agents can still grant waivers).

Passport Card as spare ID -- Since the Passport Card is credit card-sized, it can be a useful extra ID to carry at all times (why carry that bulky Passport Book on domestic flights or a visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls?). Current U.S. Passport Book holders can get a Passport Card for $20 (apply by mail using form DS-82), and you can also get a Passport Card at the same time you apply for a new or renewed Passport Book for just $20 more.

Enhanced Driver's License -- U.S. state and Canadian provincial governments can issue an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) that has the same international travel privileges as a Passport Card. It also has the same limitations.

Information on U.S. passport applications is available at

Department of Homeland Security REAL ID site:

An analysis of the REAL ID Act is available at the National Conference of State Legislatures:

Now, the Details

Do I have to worry about REAL ID?

All states and U.S. jurisdictions have now requested and received extensions to comply with the REAL ID Act until December 31, 2009 For now, then, you have no worries. Eventually, all drivers in states that comply will have to prove their identity and legal status to motor vehicle agency officials, and that will probably be a chore. This is still some years down the road, though.

When will this really start to kick in? States now have until December 31, 2009 to come into compliance. A second extension can be obtained that will be good until May 10, 2011. However, not everyone will need to have a REAL ID by those deadlines. States will have until December 1, 2014 to issue REAL ID to all those born on or after December 1, 1964, and until December 1, 1017 to issue REAL ID to all those born before December 1, 1964. Expect that all brand-new licenses should be REAL ID-compliant by May 10, 2009/2011, and then renewal licenses will phase-in gradually through 2017. Sometime between now and then, your state should notify you of its requirements, which will include presenting the necessary proofs of identity.

What will I need to obtain a REAL ID-compliant photo ID? REAL ID can only be issued to U.S. citizens, or non-citizens who are legally in the U.S. States have not announced their individual requirements, but at a minimum, all applicants will need to supply proof of their Social Security Number (presumably an actual Social Security card), proof of current address, and proof of citizenship (such as passport or birth certificate), or proof of their status as a legal alien. REAL ID must include a digital photo.

What are the costs of REAL ID? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates it will cost states $4 billion to comply with REAL ID. This estimate assumes that states were already planning to make some of these changes, so those costs weren't counted. DHS originally estimated a cost of $14 billion. The true cost may fall somewhere in between, or be even higher. With 200 million licensed drivers in the U.S., that works out to $20-$70 per license. We can expect to see some sort of temporary or permanent increase in our license fees.

What is the burden on the states? The REAL ID program requires states to confirm the identity and legal status of all license applicants, and states are required to cross-check with all other states to ensure that the person does not have more than one active driver's license.

REAL ID cannot be issued to people in the US illegally, or to people whose religious beliefs do not allow them to be photographed. States that choose to grant licenses to people who do not comply with REAL ID have to color-code and otherwise identify those licenses as non-REAL ID.

States are required to recertify driver identities during the renewal process – they'll spread this process over several years, so your renewals may be business-as-usual for a while yet. Whether new or renewal, if you live in a REAL ID-compliant state you'll need to present the following at some point:

A photo identity document or non-photo document with your full legal name and date of birth (no mention of whether an existing driver's license would qualify).

Documentation showing your date of birth (birth certificate, perhaps passport)

Proof of your social security account number (presumably, a Social Security card), or proof that you're not eligible for a Social Security number.

Documentation with your name and address of principal residence.

No foreign documents can be accepted, except for an official passport.

Proof of U.S. citizenship or status as an alien lawfully in the U.S.

Each state must take (and save) a digital photo of each applicant, even if the application is rejected.

At the least, it looks like you'll need three documents, since passports/birth certificates don't show current address or social security number, and state photo ID doesn't include social security number or proof of citizenship.

Not only must the state inspect this documentation, but it must confirm the validity of that documentation with the issuing agency. States will probably interconnect their motor vehicle computer systems, and U.S. passports will probably have their bar codes scanned and checked with Federal computers. Further, the state must "resolve discrepancies" when a search shows a person with the same Social Security number holds a license or ID in another state (in other words, the states have to actively cooperate to make sure that only one REAL ID exists per person). Expect to surrender your old driver's license when you apply in a new state.

It's expected that states will have major costs expanding and providing the necessary training and security clearances for its driver's licensing staffs, and face major computing system upgrades.

Enhanced Driver's Licenses (EDL) To add additional complication to the issue, U.S. states and Canadian provinces can offer an optional Enhanced Driver's License. This EDL, designed in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is the equivalent of a Passport Card – usable for land and sea re-entry into the US from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, and recognized as proof of citizenship by other governments in the region. EDLs are also fully compliant with the REAL ID Act. As of April 3, 2008, the  state of  Washington is the only state or province issuing EDLs.

Important Differences Between Passport Books and Passport Cards: The U.S. Passport Book is the traditional proof-of-citizenship document for U.S. citizens traveling between the U.S. and other countries. It is accepted by all countries that permit visits by U.S. citizens, and can be used to re-enter the U.S. by air, sea, or land, no matter where you've been. A new U.S. adult passport costs $100, and is valid for 10 years.

The Passport Card is a new Federally-issued identity document that can be used to reenter the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. An adult Passport Card costs $45 and is valid for 10 years. The Passport Card is only recognized by a limited number of other countries, and cannot be used to re-enter the U.S. by air. State-issued Enhanced Driver's Licenses (EDLs) have the same privileges and limitations as a Passport Card.

Civil Liberties Concerns Some Americans are concerned that these enhanced identity requirements violate traditional liberties, including the freedom to travel freely within the borders of the U.S., and the protection of private information. Some state governernments have voiced these concerns as well, even though they are currently cooperating with the act. It is possible that court challenges to some provisions of the REAL ID Act may affect implementation of the act.

RFID Chips All passports issued today (including Passport Cards and Enhanced Driver's Licenses) include an "RFID chip" – a device that allows Customs and Border Protection agents to "scan" an identity document without touching it. (This is supposed to speed border crossings and accurately identify travelers). According to Federal authorities, the RFID chip carries only a number that is used to call-up the person's passport information from a secure Federal database. It does not carry any kind of personal information that can be "scanned" by unauthorized individuals (they would need access to the government's computers to obtain information about that person). While there appears to be a variety of potential privacy risks to the widespread use of RFID, a discussion of those issues is not possible in this article. International treaties require the adoption of the RFID chip by all participating nations, so for now, international travelers cannot avoid this technology.

About the Author: Dave Marx is the co-author of PassPorter guidebooks. He's married to his co-author and partner in crime Jennifer and father to Allie and Alexander. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Related Links: Airline Security

Return to | Ask a Question on the PassPorter Message Boards

Updated 02/28/2008 

Read additional articles from

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  



We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2015
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks

PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

PassPorter's Sidekick for the Walt Disney World Guidebook e-book

PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide

PassPorter's Disney 500: Fast Tips for Walt Disney World Trips e-book

PassPorter's Disney Speed Planner: The Easy Ten Step Program to a Perfect Walt Disney World Vacation e-book

PassPorter's Disney Weddings & Honeymoons

PassPorter's Festivals and Celebrations at Walt Disney World e-book

PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Clues: First-Class Tips for Disney Cruise Trips

PassPorter Disneyland Resort and Southern California Attractions guidebook

PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line guidebook