Acceptable identification for airline travel

In the US, every adult passenger are required to show some kind of identification card or document that the TSA would find acceptable. If you don't have this kind of documentation, you may either be prevented from going into the secure part of the airport terminal, or you may be delayed while security verifies your identification through other means.

Acceptable ID for domestic US travel
An acceptable ID would be one that is both current, and contains the following: name, date of birth, gender, photograph, expiration date, and a tamper-resistant feature. While many kinds of indentification would work, the most common would ones would be a passport or a driver's license or other state issued ID. For the TSA, acceptable IDs include:

  • US passport
  • US passport card
  • Department of Homeland (DHS) Security "Trusted Traveler" cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • US Military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and Department of Defense civilians)
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
  • Drivers License or other state photo identity card issued by a department of motor vehicles (or equivalent government agency)
  • Native American tribal photo ID
  • 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 card
  • Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)

Other uses for identification
If you are on a domestic flight in the US, you may not need to use your ID to get a boarding pass or to get on the airplane. Your airline may require you to present a photo ID to board the airplane or at the check in counter, but some airlines don't have this requirement. In most cases, you just need to show a boarding pass to get on the airplane.

Acceptable ID for travel from the US
There are two kinds of identification requirements for international travel from the US, identification for getting through TSA security, and identification for the airline. The TSA's ID requirement for entering the secure part of the airport terminal is the same for domestic or international passengers. Airlines require that you show a passport, visa, or some other kind of document to confirm that you are allowed to fly to your destination. A passport can get you to the gate, but you may need more to get on the plane. Check with your airline to be sure.

Acceptable ID for international travel
Rules will be different in each country, but many of them have ID rules similar to the US. International travel will require at least a passport, and for domestic travel check with your airline to see what you may need. There are some exceptions. For example, Canadian citizens are allowed to

Acceptable ID for children
Domestic flights within the US: The TSA does not require children (anyone aged 17 or younger) to have any kind of identification to get past security, even children traveling alone. If a child is traveling alone it may be a good idea to have the child carry some kind of ID, even if it is not a passport or state issued photo ID.

International flights to or from the US: For flights to or from the US, all passengers, including infants, must have a passport.

Unacceptable identification documents
Many common ID cards are not acceptable to the TSA. This would include library cards, fishing licences, school or university IDs, workplace IDs, or expired IDs that would otherwise be acceptable. Also, a weapons permit is not acceptable, even those that are acceptable forms of ID for voting purposes in some US states.

What if you don't have an acceptable ID?
If you don't have an acceptable ID (lost, stolen, etc.), you should do two things, come early and bring whatever you have. The TSA and the airline can work together to verify your identity and get you through airport security.

View samples of acceptable documents

Acceptable Identification for Airline Travel -- Revised 26 August 2014