Driver's Licences/IDs Issued in American Samoa No Longer Accepted for Commercial Air Travel

Alexander J. Segal's picture


Beginning on February 5, 2018, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) will no longer accept American Samoan-issued driver's licenses and identification cards as proof of identity to board commercial aircraft. This is because American Samoa was deemed non-compliant with the REAL ID act, which sets standards for state-issued identification documents, and it was not granted an extension for becoming compliant. American Samoa is the only one of the 56 states and territories to be deemed non-compliant and not granted an extension.

The information in this blog is drawn from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) FAQ on the subject [PDF version].

Transition Period

However, in order to ensure a smooth transition for American Samoan travelers, TSA will provide additional assistance to American Samoans who arrive at an airport without acceptable documentation from February 5, 2018 through May 6, 2018. Please see our full article for the list of acceptable documentation for domestic travel [see article].

American Samoans who arrive at the airport without acceptable documentation from February 5, 2018, through May 6, 2018, may be asked to present at least two other forms of identification to travel. The DHS provided a list of examples of identification that may be accepted:

American Samoa Certificate of Identity;
Birth certificate;
Social security card;
Voter registration card;
Vehicle registration;
Marriage certificate;
W-2 form; or
Credit card.

In order to be accepted as evidence of identity by the TSA, the alternative forms of identification must include the individual's name and other identifying information (e.g., photo, address, phone number, social security number, or date of birth). Provided that the individual's identity is confirmed, he or she may be subject to additional screening before being permitted to enter the screening checkpoint. The individual will not be permitted to enter the security checkpoint if his or her identity cannot be confirmed.

As we noted, it is important to remember that, although American Samoan-issued identification cards and driver's licenses no longer constitute acceptable documentation for air travel, American Samoans will still be able to rely upon a variety of other forms of documentation to meet the requirement. We would like to again remind you to see our full article on this subject [see article].

Other Articles Addressing American Samoa

In a separate matter, American Samoa has a unique status in the context of U.S. nationality law because individuals born in American Samoa are noncitizen nationals from birth (unless the individual has grounds for acquiring U.S. citizenship at birth through one or both parents [see article]). We discuss noncitizen nationals generally in a full article [see article]. Furthermore, please see our articles on immigration issues for noncitizen nationals (including naturalization) [see article] and the circumstances under which noncitizen nationals can file family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions [see article].

Driver's Licences/IDs Issued in American Samoa No Longer Accepted for Commercial Air Travel