Early this morning, Puerto Rico woke up to a surprise when the United States Department of Homeland Security announced that driver’s licenses from the territory are not compliant with the REAL ID act and would therefore not be acceptable for travel once the act is enforced. However, media outlets have misinformed the public, announcing January 10 as the date when the licenses will no longer be accepted, when this is not true. The Transportation Security Administration has stated that before any change is implemented, there will be a 120 days notice to the public.
As of right now, Puerto Rico is under the category of states and territories with noncompliant licenses, but “under review for an extension renewal, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses from these states, until at least January 10, 2016 under a grace period.” What this means is that until the TSA officially announces Puerto Rican licenses will no longer be accepted, Puerto Rico residents are free to use the territory’s driver’s licenses as official identification at airports. At least for now.
Didn’t Puerto Rico announce that its licenses would be compliant with the REAL ID act?
Yes, back in December 2012, then Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works Secretary Rubén Hernández Gregorat announced that the territory would be revising the license design to meet the standards the DHS asked for, and have them be fully compliant with federal law.
However, since then, reports have surfaced on Twitter where it appears that the new administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla then refused to include a golden star in the design of the license, therefore falling out of compliance with the act, leading to today’s announcement.
Por esta estrella TSA ahora no aceptara Lic PR para viajar. Gob local se nego a incluirla (via: @eddieoscar99 ) pic.twitter.com/4qR9Mq7ZaE
— CADENA WAPA RADIO (@WapaRadio) December 29, 2015
Consequentially, unless Puerto Rico redesigns its driver’s licenses, these will at some point no longer be accepted as valid identification to travel. That date however, is as of right now, unknown, contrary to what several media outlets are reporting.