How to Fly Without an ID

By Blake Guthrie

Is it possible to be an anonymous flyer?

How to Fly Without an ID

It's a scenario that may cause panic in some travelers: You're on vacation and lose the ID needed to board the plane to get back home. Don't be afraid. Take a deep breath. Yes, the TSA will still let you board the plane; you'll just have to take some extra steps beyond the normal screening process.

It's best to depart for your trip fully prepared by knowing what forms of ID are required and what to do if they're lost, stolen or expired.

Get home without an ID

If you lose your driver's license, passport or other ID while on your trip, there's no need to freak out. The TSA will still let you onto your flight provided you do the following: Inform the document checker at the security checkpoint that you are no longer in possession of your ID; fill out the form you're given; provide additional information if asked and go through additional screening. TSA agents can use available public databases to help confirm your identity, which will take extra time. If you're unwilling to go through these extra steps, you most likely won't be allowed to fly.

What do you need to fly in the U.S.?

The most common forms of identification used to get through a TSA checkpoint for domestic travel are a driver's license or a passport. One or the other will do; you don't need both for domestic travel. Since not everyone has these documents, many other forms of ID are also accepted. These include a state photo identity card, U.S. military ID, permanent resident card, border crossing card, airline or airport-issued ID in compliance with a TSA-approved security plan, and a tribal-issued ID recognized by the federal government.

Can you board an airplane with an expired driver's license?

You can fly with an expired driver's license. After all, it beats having no photo ID at all, so an expired license in hand helps the agents confirm your identity in the same way they might if you had lost it. You may be asked to go through some extra screening steps, just as you would if you had no state-issued photo ID. It's a good idea to pull out your license right now and make a note of when it's set to expire, so you're not caught off-guard in the middle of your vacation or at the checkpoint.

What kind of identification is needed for a child to fly?

The TSA doesn't require children under 18 to provide an ID. You'll need to check with your airline to see what its specific policies are concerning minors. Typically, you'll escort the child to airline personnel at the ticket counter or gate and prove you are the legal guardian with a proper ID. The same applies at the destination as well, so the airline may need the names of two legal guardians.

About the Author

Blake Guthrie covers travel, entertainment and outdoor recreation for many outlets, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he is a regular contributor. With years of experience as a professional cook, Guthrie also relishes writing about food and beverage topics. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from Auburn University.