Your California driver’s license is an essential key to get through TSA airport screening. However, the Department of Homeland Security has added California to 11 other states and territories whose citizens may be required to present another form of acceptable ID such as a passport to clear security. Those states and territories include Alaska, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands
A Federal law, passed 10 years ago, requires states and territories take many new security measures before issuing a driver’s license. That time is up, but, California and the others still haven't met some requirements, such as documenting Social Security numbers and mandatory Homeland Security markings.
California has been given a two-year extension to comply. If it fails, you'd be required to bring an acceptable back-up document, most likely a passport, if you have one.
"I do not. I haven't had the opportunity to travel outside of the country so I didn't think I needed a passport, says airline passenger Brad Goodling. "I'd be really upset. I mean, you know, as much as we go through to get a driver's license, you know, I would be quite upset if they wouldn't accept it," adds passenger Jackie Patterson. "And it's not fair. It's not fair to a whole lot of people who don't have passports," protests passenger Helen Dean.
Only 46 percent of Americans even have a passport and if you have to get one of those, that will cost you $110.
"I'd have to figure out something pretty quick. Probably do wait on a passport for, I don't know. Eight weeks is it to get a passport?" asks Goodling.
To most folks, passports are more precious than easily and quickly replaceable driver’s licenses.
"I have a passport. I could use that but I try to protect my passport and not carry it around with me all the time because I've known people who've had them stolen or have lost them, and it's really difficult to get a passport," says Dean.
Though TSA says it doesn't plan to strictly enforce the law until 2020, any serious incident could move that time table up.