Do you have the required travel documents?


Two new documents will soon be required for American citizens who travel by plane within the U.S. or who visit Europe. After the approaching deadlines, you will be denied travel if you don’t have them, so it’s vital to plan ahead.

Domestic travel

Beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to board a flight within the U.S.

A REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card displays a star in the upper right corner. The standard driver’s license says “Federal Limits Apply” in the same space. If you don’t have the REAL ID after October 1, 2020, you must use another federally approved credential to board a domestic flight or access a government facility, such as a U.S. passport, a DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry), a U.S. military ID or a permanent resident card.

You can still use a standard driver’s license to drive, vote or receive federal benefits. Healthcare and law enforcement also accept standard IDs. In Virginia, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues both standard and REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards. You’ll have to choose which one you want, as you cannot hold both. If you choose the REAL ID, you must appear in person and there is an additional $10 one-time fee.

Required documentation includes proof of identity (birth certificate, passport, etc.), two proofs of Virginia residency (W-2, utility bills, etc.) and proof of Social Security Number. All documents must be originals. Find more document details at

Travel to Europe

It’s important to note that a REAL ID is not a substitute for a passport for international travel. In addition to a passport valid for at least six months beyond travel, Americans will need the new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) to enter 26 countries in Europe by air, land or sea starting in 2021.

The ETIAS is an electronic security measure instituted by the EU that waives the requirement of a conventional visa. The cost is seven euros (free for travelers under 18 and over 70) and they will be valid for three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Once the ETIAS visa waiver program is launched, you will be required to apply online at a minimum of 72 hours prior to travel. If your travel takes place in early 2021 at the very beginning of the program, you should apply as early as possible in case there are any hiccups in the new system. The vast majority of applicants will receive a decision within minutes; however, if more documentation is required, manual processing could take up to four weeks. Denials may be appealed.

You must provide passport details and travel plans. Payment can only be made online by debit or credit card, and you must provide an email address to receive the ETIAS.

Be sure you have the documents you need to travel. And remember, when making travel arrangements through a professional travel advisor, you get an information resource, a trip planner, a detail organizer and a personal advocate all in one. Happy Travels!

About Beverly McLean 21 Articles
Beverly McLean, CTC, is affiliated with Covington Travel and can be reached at 757-286-5233 or e-mail

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