May 29, 2024
Can you fly with an expired ID? Learn everything you need to know about navigating air travel with an expired ID, from TSA regulations to real-life examples and best practices. Discover top ways to ensure you always have valid ID when flying and what to do if you don't.


One of the most important aspects of air travel is ensuring that you have the proper identification in order to board your flight. But what happens if your ID is expired? Can you still fly with an expired ID? This is a common question that many travelers ask, and one that can be difficult to answer. In this article, we will provide you with a definitive guide to navigating air travel with an expired ID, covering everything from TSA requirements to real-life examples and best practices.

The Definitive Guide to Flying with an Expired ID: Everything You Need to Know

Before we dive into the specifics of flying with an expired ID, it’s important to understand the TSA’s ID requirements for air travel. The TSA website clearly states that a valid ID is required for all passengers over the age of 18 who are traveling domestically.

So, what constitutes a valid ID? The TSA accepts a variety of IDs, including:

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents)

If your ID is expired, it is not considered a valid ID by the TSA. However, they do have procedures in place for passengers who show up at the checkpoint with an expired ID.

Why You Shouldn’t Risk Flying with an Expired ID and How to Avoid It

The potential consequences of flying with an expired ID can be severe. Depending on the circumstances, you may be denied boarding, delayed, or even miss your flight entirely. Additionally, if your ID is expired, it may cause security concerns, which can lead to further delays and complications.

The best way to avoid flying with an expired ID is to check your ID in advance and ensure that it is up to date. If your ID is close to expiring, make sure to renew it in a timely manner. Additionally, if you are planning to travel internationally, make sure to check the ID requirements for your destination, as they may differ from domestic travel requirements.

What to Do If You Get to the Airport with an Expired ID: Tips from Travel Experts

If you do happen to get to the airport with an expired ID, don’t panic. There are still ways to get through security and make your flight. Here is some advice from TSA, airlines, and travel experts on what to do:

  • Bring additional identification such as a credit card or health insurance card
  • Expect additional screening and arrive at the airport early
  • Provide additional information to confirm your identity, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your travel itinerary

It’s important to note that each airline may have their own policies and procedures for handling passengers with expired IDs, so make sure to check with your specific airline in advance.

How Changing TSA Regulations Affect Your Ability to Fly with an Expired ID

The TSA has recently updated their ID requirements for air travel, and these changes may affect your ability to fly with an expired ID. As of October 2021, all travelers age 18 and older are required to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other acceptable form of ID to board a domestic flight. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses have a star on the top right corner of the card.

If you do not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other acceptable form of ID, you may still be able to use a valid U.S. passport or other approved documents. Make sure to check the TSA website for the most up-to-date information on ID requirements.

Navigating Air Travel with an Expired ID: The Dos and Don’ts

If you do find yourself traveling with an expired ID, there are some best practices to follow to make the experience as smooth as possible. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Do bring additional identification and documentation to confirm your identity
  • Do arrive at the airport early to allow for additional screening and processing time
  • Do be prepared to answer questions and provide additional information about your travel plans
  • Don’t argue with TSA agents or airline staff – they are just doing their job to ensure the safety of all passengers
  • Don’t try to sneak through security or use a fake ID – this can lead to serious consequences

What Happens If You Try to Fly with an Expired ID: A Personal Story

One real-life example of a traveler attempting to fly with an expired ID comes from travel blogger Nomadic Matt. In a blog post, he recounted how he accidentally grabbed his expired driver’s license instead of his valid one before a flight. When he got to the airport, he explained his mistake to TSA and offered additional documentation to confirm his identity. He was ultimately allowed to board his flight, but only after going through additional screening and delays.

Top Ways to Ensure You Always Have Valid ID When Flying, and What to Do If You Don’t

To avoid the stress and inconvenience of traveling with an expired ID, here are some recommendations for ensuring that you always have valid ID when flying:

  • Check your ID expiration date in advance and renew it in a timely manner
  • Apply for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other acceptable form of ID
  • Keep your ID in a safe and easily accessible place when traveling
  • Consider bringing a backup form of ID, such as a passport or birth certificate, for added peace of mind

If you do not have a valid ID and are unable to renew it in time for your flight, consider rescheduling your travel plans or using alternative forms of transportation.


In conclusion, flying with an expired ID is not recommended and can lead to serious consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to remain calm, follow TSA and airline procedures, and always have additional documentation on hand to confirm your identity. By following these best practices and ensuring that your ID is up to date, you can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.

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