Do You Need A Valid Photo ID To Pass Through TSA Security? Nope…

As of the 21st of June 2008 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) required all passengers over the age of 18 to present a valid form of federal or state issued photo identification to cross from the ‘land side’ to the ‘air side’ of an airport to fly on a commercial flight.

While the TSA states that all travelers must present a valid photo identification that contains the passengers full name, date of birth gender and expiration date, along with a tamper resistant feature … all a passenger really must do is be able to verify who they are … with or without valid photo identification.

Not to delve into the legal challenges to the TSA’s photo identification requirement for US domestic air travel … in reality (and in writing from the TSA) … passengers who do not or cannot present a photo identification can in fact pass through a TSA checkpoint … and further more they can fly on any US domestic commercial flight.

Yes, presenting a valid and complying photo identification at a TSA check point speeds up the process, but should you not have a valid photo identification or you choose to not present a photo identification, the TSA’s Travel Document Checkers (TDC) are authorized to ask travelers a series of verifiable challenge questions to verify a travelers identity. Some of the questions may be a bit personal in nature…but answer then correctly and you can pass through security without photo identification.

Those who pass through a TSA checkout without proper ID may be subject to a secondary screening of their body and carry on baggage.

Of course with everything the TSA says publicly regarding the need to keep the ‘air side’ of an airport ‘sterile’ there are loopholes to the system … this being one of them.

While many within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) view loops holes as gaping security risks this is likely not one of them.  Why is this likely not a security risk? Because this loophole helps those who have forgotten their ID, accidentally checked their wallet, or lost their drivers license. If someone were dedicated to causing an incident in an airport or was plotting to take down an airliner they would not red-flag themselves at the TSA security checkpoint by not having a proper photo identification.

So should you find yourself at the airport without your ID don’t worry … as long as you are who you say you are …. you’ll be fine.

Happy Flying!


  1. I’m a little confused here, where do they get the answers to the questions if some of then are of a highly personal nature? Or are these questions about home address, SS #, distention? Stuff that’s in our files.

    Wait, we have files now?

  2. Maria

    We all have files that can verify our name, date of birth, place of birth, social security (or resident alien) number, school records, banking records, car registrations, etc etc. I agree it is very much like having Big Brother looking over your shoulder. This is how the TSA’s TDCs check the identity of someone who is flying without a proper photo ID.

    Happy Flying!


  3. I worked as a nurse escort with a patient who had no photo ID and due to her medical condition did not even know where a photo ID was. TSA used her hospital wristband and her hospital discharge instructions to verify her identity and cleared her to fly with me escorting her the entire trip.

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