Business Travel Featured

The Ultimate Guide to REAL ID for Business Travelers


Vaccinations? Check. Laptop? Check. REAL ID? What? You might be ready to travel, but is your identification ready? Business travelers need to be REAL ID ready by May 3, 2023. Ultimately, here’s what you need to know.


The REAL ID Act passed in 2005 in response the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations on preventing terrorism. The Act designed for personal identification forms to be more consistent and secure.

But enforcement of the Act has been a long time coming. According to the New York Times, “The rollout has been delayed many times over the years after some states complained that the original deadline of 2008 was unreasonable.”

Additionally, the states are largely footing the cost, about $3.9 billion. Federal aid to implement the Act totaled only $225 million. State databases also struggled to function correctly.

Finally, as states got their ducks in a row for the Act’s 2020 enforcement deadline, the COVID-19 pandemic blew them out of the water. Many states closed their Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices, which were largely responsible for issuing the REAL IDs.


The DHS granted a few extensions to the original deadline during the pandemic. However, time is almost up. Enforcement begins May 3, 2023.

The DHS homepage for REAL IDs


According to the Federal Register, “Beginning on that date, federal agencies may not accept a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for official purposes from any individual unless such license or card is a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that DHS has determined is in full compliance.”

Without a REAL ID, business travelers cannot travel within the United States by air.

Business travelers can learn if their identification is in line by using the DHS’s interactive tool. The page also allows you to search your state to find the guidelines for your location.

If your state is compliant, and your driver’s license or identification card is due to expire before May 3, 2023, the new ID issued to you will have a radio frequency identification chip. This will be indicated by a star symbol. Or, your ID will be “enhanced,” depending on your location.

A compliant license will be marked with one of the star symbols. An enhanced license will be marked “enhanced.” Here are examples from two locations:

examples of REAL IDs with the star graphic printed on the ID


Business travelers should check the status of their identification and act quickly. Some states are reporting months long wait times at the DMV.

Additional information can be obtained from your state or local DMV office and the DHS.


When is the REAL ID deadline?

The new deadline is May 3, 2023. Beginning on that date, business travelers without a compliant form of identification will not be allowed through TSA security checkpoints.

Who needs a REAL ID?

All U.S. travelers flying domestically need a REAL ID or other acceptable form of ID. Furthermore, this includes travelers enrolled in programs like TSA PreCheck and CLEAR.

How do I know if I have a REAL ID?

Unfortunately, state compliance doesn’t guarantee that your identification is compliant. If your ID is not marked with a star, check with your state driver license division.

Some states—New York, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont—issue both enhanced and REAL ID-compliant licenses. Either of these are acceptable.

Washington State issues only enhanced licenses, which are also compliant.

How do I get a REAL ID?

To get a REAL ID, visit your local DMV in person and present identity verification documents.

You can use the DHS’s interactive tool to search your state or territory and access your state’s guidelines.

What kinds of documents are needed for a REAL ID?

At a minimum, you need documentation of:

  • – your full legal name
  • – date of birth
  • – Social Security number
  • – two proofs of principal residence address
  • – lawful status

Some states may have additional requirements, so check with your DMV before visiting in person.

Will TSA accept any other forms of identification?

If you don’t have a REAL ID, other forms of identification are usable. For example, a federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID is an acceptable form of identification. A valid passport could also be used.

What forms of identification are not acceptable?

The TSA currently doesn’t accept mobile driver’s licenses. Additionally, paper temporary/interim driver’s licenses are not an acceptable form of ID.

Business Travel

The Ins & Outs of International Business Travel

While the return of business travel after the COVID-19 pandemic began with a slow burn, the landscape quickly ignited as 2022 progressed. Companies clearly needed their travelers to be traveling again and travelers welcomed that opportunity after two years of quarantines and lockdowns. International business travel in particular has made a come back in recent months, especially after the United States lifted its requirement that international travelers test negative for COVID-19 before flying to the U.S.

IATA reported that international travel numbers for 2021 were 27% of 2019 levels. They forecasted 2022 to improve to 69%. With this increase in international business travel, many travelers may still have questions about jumping back into jetsetting. It can also be a little confusing as to the new rules, requirements, and regulations for entry and boarding around the world. Use the following tools and resources for your next international business trip.

Visas for International Business Travel

Visa and passport delays are being experienced around the world. The U.S. State Department reports that “U.S. embassies and consulates are working to resume routine visa services … However, the pandemic continues to severely impact the number of visas our embassies and consulates abroad are able to process.”

They go on to explain that constraints vary based on local conditions and restrictions, but include local and national lockdowns, travel restrictions, host country quarantine regulations, and measures taken by embassies and consulates to contain the spread of COVID-19. This page on their website offers a backlog report.

Similar delays are being seen in other countries. In the United Kingdom, visa applications, which usually take 12 weeks to process, are currently taking up to 24 weeks.

Lean on CIBTvisas

As you seek to get visas for your international business travelers, you might consider using CIBTvisas. They are the leading global travel visa service, focusing on obtaining business and other travel visas for corporations and individuals worldwide in a fast, convenient and secure manner.

Passports for International Business Travel

Travelers needing to renew their passport should start the process sooner rather than later. While the wait time is shorter than last year (Processing times for passport applications were an average of 18 weeks in 2021.), the U.S. State Department is reporting wait times of up to 10 weeks.

International Travel Rules & Requirements

Keeping up with the rules and requirements for entry and exit around the world is like playing a carnival game–it’s a constantly moving target. But rest assured, there are tools available.


In addition to visa assistance, CIBTvisas provides entry and health guidance with accurate, up-to-the-minute regulations for your destination, including COVID-19 and rules for vaccinated travelers. They also have an itinerary review service to provide guidance on how to travel safely and securely.

Christopherson + Sherpa

Use our destination database, created in partnership with Sherpa, to know what documentation or travel requirements exist for your trip. Simply type in your departure and arrival cities to access travel guidelines, entry restrictions, risk levels, quarantine measures, and more for both domestic and international destinations.

8 Tips for International Business Travelers

  1. Prepare Early – Start the process of obtaining or renewing your passport as far in advance as possible. Remember, your passport should not be set to expire within six months of visiting. Know what the visa requirements are and plan in advance.
  2. Do Your Homework – Research your destination’s entry rules, vaccine requirements, etc. in advance. Do this again a couple days before departure to be sure nothing has changed.
  3. Know the Culture – Check with your company’s travel program to see if they offer cultural information about your destinations. Have an understanding of the customs, cuisine, and culture of the place you’re traveling to.
  4. Have a Communication Plan – Make sure you know what your company wants you to do about an international phone plan.
  5. Understand Emergency Protocol – Obtain training on your organization’s duty of care policies and risk management plan. Know who to call in an emergency and how to get out of the country quickly if needed.
  6. Plan Your Baggage, Food, & Water for Travel Days – Know the luggage requirements of your airline. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your checked bag get delayed. Know when and where you’re going to find meals or snacks.
  7. Make Copies of Passport – Make copies of your passport and keep separate from the real version. This will be helpful in proving your citizenship if your passport is lost or stolen.
  8. Register with Your Embassy – It’s always a good idea to register your international travel plans with your home country’s embassy. This is especially true if you’re headed to a country with high crime or political and social unrest.