Do you fly in the U.S.? You might need REAL ID by October 1, 2020


REAL ID 10/1/2020 deadline graphic

Do you fly on commercial airplanes for work or for pleasure in the U.S.? Do you regularly visit military bases or secure federal facilities? If so, this is the year you will need to have either a REAL ID-compliant license or a valid US passport to take commercial flights within the US or gain access to secure federal facilities. The law goes into effect on October 1, 2020 so there is still plenty of time to assess whether this is something you need or not and, if so, time to get the required documents.

Here’s the scoop. After 9/11, federal legislators and security officials established consistent, minimum security standards that would be enforced in all states and territories. Beginning on October 1 of this year, federal agencies, including DHS and TSA, will only accept compliant documentation at TSA airport security checkpoints and some federal facilities, such as military bases and nuclear power plants. The most common forms of documents are REAL ID-compliant licenses or US passports or passport cards. A handful of states (Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, New York and Washington) issue enhanced driver’s licenses, which are also acceptable.

You do NOT need a REAL ID if:

  • you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • you don’t use commercial airplanes to travel domestically
  • you don’t visit military bases
  • you don’t visit secure federal facilities
  • you are under 18 years of age

You can use a passport if you have one, but you have to remember to bring it with you in instances where it wasn’t required previously.

What is a Real ID and how do you get one?

It’s possible that if you renewed your license in recent years, you have a Real ID-compliant license because states have been phasing them in. Homeland Security says that “REAL ID-compliant cards will have of one of the following markings on the upper top portion of the card. If the card does not have one of these markings, it is not REAL ID-compliant and won’t be accepted as proof of identity in order to board commercial aircraft.”

REAL ID symbols

And here is a sample of a Massachusetts REAL ID-compliant license vs a noncompliant one. The designation in the upper right-hand corner varies by state.

Massachusetts REAl-ID compliant license sample

Homeland Security has many resources to learn more, including

You can also check with your state’s registry of motor vehicles to see if your license is REAL ID compliant. Here are links to REAL ID info for state RMVs in the New England region

 

Snowbirds: Tips for winterizing your home while away


illustration of older couple paccking a car in the snow to head for Florida

Will you be making a seasonal move south to weather out the harsh winter months in a more favorable climate? Whether you’ll be gone for a few days or a few months, if you are traveling over the winter, there are some home maintenance tasks you should tend to so that you don’t come home to unpleasant surprises.

No one knows better than an insurance company what the common winter home hazards and problems can be – after all, they deal with the claims damage every year. This excellent infographic is courtesy of Travelers, one of our Renaissance Alliance insurance partners. It offers a good checklist to help you secure your home for an extended winter absence. While some of the tasks are suitable to prep for a long-term absence, others are handy for shorter travel periods, too, such as a week over the holidays or a midwinter vacation.

Click for a larger version.

infographic with tips about how to winterize your home for extended travel

Related posts:

 

When should you book your holiday flights? Experts say right now!


Santa as pilot of the plane

OK. We know that the leaves haven’t turned yet, and the smell of pumpkin spice is barely wafting through the air. We aren’t even in Halloween prime time yet. We assure you, we aren’t trying to rush things, but we’d like to offer some seriously good advice: If you plan to fly someplace for the holidays – either for Thanksgiving or for the Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa window – it’s not too early to book your plane travel now. In fact, it may be the ideal time.

According to AAA Travel’s flight booking data from the last three years, Sept. 25 marks the start of the best booking window for air travel over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s generally the best time for both availability and price deals. While it’s true that there are sometimes last-minute deals for travel, there is limited availability – so if you want the best availability and choice, start looking soon.

See AAA’s advice for the best days to travel on both holidays windows: The Best Time to Book Your Holiday Flights? Now! Check their article for some detailed advice. We’re reproducing two of their handy charts.

AAA Thanksgiving travel -chart of best dates

AAA - Christmas holiday travel = best times chart

SmarterTravel offers their take on timing: The 12 Best and Worst Days to Travel This Holiday Season. They show the busiest travel days around both holidays by share of bookings from travel booking site Hipmunk. They also offer some advice on snagging the best fares.

For train travel, Amtrak offers Tips for Successfully Booking Your Trip. They say that “The earlier you book your tickets, the more likely you are to get the lowest fare available for the dates you want on the routes along your journey. You may book your travel up to 11 months in advance.” See their Tips for Savvy Travelers.

In planning your trip, consider whether you need trip insurance. If you are just zipping home on a domestic flight to visit your folks, you might not need it. Instead, before you book, check your credit cards to see if any offer baggage protection or other travel benefits when you book a flight – many do. And know your consumer rights – see the Department of Transportation’s Fly Rights: A Consumer Guide to Air Travel.

But if you are taking an expensive family trip over the holidays and traveling overseas or on a cruise, you might want to talk trip insurance over with your agent to protect your investment. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good primer: Should you buy travel insurance?

Plan to travel this summer? Here are some pre-trip security precautions


Did you ever set out for you summer vacation only to return home a few minutes later to double check that you’d secured the garage door or shut the kitchen window? When you’re packing up for a trip, the natural focus is on planning for where you’ll be … but you don’t want to come home to a major problem, so an important part of any trip prep is to  take the time to secure your home before you leave.

Our friends at Chubb Insurance have compiled a great interactive trip planning guide with tips tools you need to prepare for your trip so that you can depart worry free, View the short video below or  download Home Preparation Tips – Steps to protect your home, vehicles, valuables and security during your next trip.

Chubb also offers security advice for while you are on your trip – check out the video or download Travel Tips for managing your documents, money, valuables, technology and more while you’re away.

 

Some popular posts on travel from our archives

 

Best times for safe Thanksgiving road travel


If you are planning to hit the road for Thanksgiving, you’ll have plenty of company. Road travel is expected to be very high this year, bolstered by favorable gas prices right now — according to AAA, this week started off with a national average price for a gallon of regular gas of $2.885!

GasBuddy.com is a good source for the best prices — and this year, they conducted a survey on Thanksgiving travel with more than 80,000 people and learned the following:

  • When do we go? 36% say their Thanksgiving travel begins on Thanksgiving Day. 30% said it starts the day before; 18% say they’re hitting the road 2 to 3 days before.
  • What about the return trip home? 25% say they’ll fight the tryptophan malaise and drive home later on Thanksgiving Day; but the majority, 42% say they’ll wait 2 to 3 days and drive home Saturday or Sunday. 22% of us expect to hit the road with a fresh start the next morning.
  • How well prepared are we? 95% of respondents have a smart phone. 52% say they use 2 to 3 travel apps for their Thanksgiving travels; 34% will actively use 4 or more apps.

Google Maps examined the traffic conditions over the last 2 years for 21 cities in the U.S. and translated that data to travel tips for those of you who will be on the road: the best day to travel? That would be Thanksgiving day itself. Google offers tips for days to avoid, the best time to set out, the best times to travel home, and more. See the full list of Google Thanksgiving travel tips here – we’ve excerpted a few infographic-style tips below.
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