Don’t freak out the next time you are without your drivers license going through TSA security at the airport. This article reviews what you can do in advance to avoid these hassles and what alternative items you can present to TSA to get through security.
Have you ever gotten to the airport and realized you’d forgotten your drivers license? Did you freak out and think you could not board your flight? If so, you’re not alone. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) commonly gets asked by passengers how to get through TSA security at the airport without their drivers license. So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
It might surprise some people, but you don’t need a physical driver’s license to get through TSA. In this article, we’ll discuss what you will need to get through TSA and to your destination without your drivers license. We will also review what you can do in advance to avoid feeling overwhelmed the next time you forget or lose your drivers license during your travels.
It happens! We misplace or lose our drivers license when we need it most…. to get through TSA security. It is probably best to be prepared if you show up to the TSA checkpoint and don’t have your drivers license. Let’s visit several things you can do before your travels to ensure you will have no issues at TSA.
#1. Pack a 2nd form of identification. This can include your passport, or other TSA-approved alternative, proofs of identification as listed below.
#2. Pack expired documents. The TSA provides some lenience when it comes to expired forms of identification. For example, a drivers license that has been expired for less than one year is an acceptable form of identification. This may change with TSA accepting REAL ID starting May 7, 2025.
#3. Digitally scan your ID and store it on your phone. Save these images in a locked photo album on your phone. You could also print out a copy of your ID or drivers license, as this may help you get through TSA if you don’t have your physical drivers license. This may also be helpful when traveling internationally.
#4. Mobile ID on Apple iPhones. Currently, the TSA allows Pre-check travelers to use Mobile ID on a very limited basis in place of a physical drivers license, and this is dependent on which state you live in and which airport you are using. Even if the TSA doesn’t accept your Mobile ID, it might be helpful to have it if you don’t have your actual drivers license.
#5. Two forms of non-photo ID. Your wallet may already have what you need to get through TSA without your physical drivers license. Any ID, membership card, or credit card that matches the name on your ticket will help get you through TSA. This might include a Costco membership card, gym card, municipal card, or credit card. Using a combination of these items with or without a picture of yourself may be helpful to get you through TSA. Getting through TSA depends on the agent you encounter and what they will accept from your wallet to substitute for your physical drivers license.
#6. Social Security Card, birth certificate, and marriage certificate. These items may or may not be with you during your travels, but if you have them, they can be used in combination with other photo and non-photo IDs.
If you don’t have a physical driver’s license at the airport, the TSA can use other forms of identification to verify your identity. The TSA has several alternative ways to provide proof of identity if you forget your driver’s license at the airport. Here are some of the most commonly accepted forms of alternative identification as seen on the TSA website:
1. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
2. Global Entry Card
3. Military ID – An active-duty, retired, or reserve military ID is acceptable
4. State-issued Driver’s License or ID Card – It requires your name, date of birth, gender, and photograph.
5. Permanent Resident Card – A green card or other permanent resident cards are accepted.
6. Secure Flight Passenger Data – TSA PreCheck members can use their Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) to prove their identity at the airport.
7. Government Employee Credentials
……..And there are other TSA and federally recognized forms of IDs you can find on the TSA website.
Gun carrying permits and temporary licenses (i.e., state and drivers licenses) can not be used as proof of identity.
If you have any questions, call them. The number for TSA is 1-866-289-9673 (1-866-289-TSA). Once you’ve spoken with an agent, they can provide additional information and assistance. If needed, they may be able to suggest alternative forms of acceptable identification that you can use to get through security.
When traveling domestically, children under 18 years old do not require ID.
Maybe! It’s important to note that you may be subject to additional screening, so make sure to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to get through and avoid TSA delays.
If you don’t have your drivers license at the airport, don’t freak out! You don’t need your physical drivers license to get through TSA. The TSA offers alternative ways to prove your identity if you don’t have your physical drivers license. Being prepared by having additional forms of identification on your phone or in your wallet might alleviate any stress you might have if your drivers license is missing. When the time comes, and you don’t have your physical drivers license, refer back to this article or the TSA website for the items that you can use to verify your identity
***Remember that the TSA plans only to accept REAL ID starting May 7, 2025.