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Flying Without an ID: What to Do If You Lose Your ID While Traveling in 2019

What happens if you lose your ID before a flight? Can you fly without an ID? Just imagine it: bags packed, hotel booked, Instagram pose prepped, and then suddenly that stomach-dropping, cold-sweat-drenched moment... you can’t find it. You’ve looked everywhere. What do you do next?

Well, don’t cancel everything and spend the rest of the day weeping under the covers just yet. Believe it or not, all is not lost, even if your ID is. Here’s everything you need to know about flying without an id.

Can You Fly Without an ID?

The short answer: YES

If you’re catching a domestic flight within the US, and your ID is lost, stolen, or you left it at home, you might be in luck. TSA has other ways of confirming your identity, using publicly available databases, so there’s a good chance you’ll be allowed on your flight.

First, though, you’ll need to complete an identity verification process with a TSA officer — so arrive at the airport well ahead of your flight’s scheduled departure, for the best chance of making it in time for take-off. (We’d recommend AT LEAST two hours ahead.) The TSA officer will ask for info including your name, current address, and other personal details that can be used to confirm that you are who you say you are. The process could take a while.

If they’re able to confirm your identity against a database, you’ll be allowed through to security screening. (You’ll get a boarding pass with a note on it explaining that you don’t have ID).

If, however, your identity can’t be verified, they’ll have no choice but to turn you away. (A day weeping under the covers it is, then).  

What happens if you want to travel internationally without an id?

Hm, that’s a stickier problem. Different countries have different rules about the identification they’ll accept for commercial flights. So, if you’re not catching a domestic flight within the US, we highly recommend that you don’t try to travel without a passport.

If you lose your passport while abroad, go to your embassy as soon as possible to get a replacement. It’s the only way to guarantee you’ll get home.

The rest of this article focuses on what to do when you don’t have ID for domestic flights within the US.

Can I fly with a temporary ID?

Unfortunately, a temporary ID — like a temporary driver’s license — is not considered an acceptable form of ID by TSA.

Can I fly with an expired ID?

Strike two. An expired ID is also not considered proper identification. Nice try, though!

Can I fly with a picture of my ID?

This will help your case — though we can’t guarantee definite results. But it’s totally worth a try. Bring a photocopy or a digital scan of an acceptable form of ID and show this to the TSA officer (if it’s a digital scan, keep it somewhere secure, like a private Dropbox account).

What forms of ID does TSA accept?

OK, so you lost your driver’s license. But TSA accepts a bunch of other forms of ID for domestic travel. So, if you have any of the below with you at the airport, you don’t have to sweat it at all.

Flying without an ID? Here are some alternative IDs to try

  • US passport
  • US passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • US military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • US Merchant Mariner Credential

Again, there are no guarantees here, but even if you don’t have an acceptable form of ID with you, there are a few things you might bring along to the airport to help your case with the TSA officer. (Remember, though, that you should arrive nice and early as the process could take a while).

Building a strong case to fly without an ID

  • A credit card, a business card with your photo on it, mail or prescription medication with your name and address on the label, voter registration, or even a library card can build a stronger argument for you during the identification verification process.
  • Traveling with family who do have their ID? Bring along some family photos that show you all together. It just might work!
  • Filing a police report about your missing ID is also a good idea — for two reasons: First of all, if you bring the police report to the airport, it’s proof of your story and can help to confirm your identity with TSA. Also, it will help stop anyone from stealing your identity. Even if you lost your ID, rather than had it stolen, someone could find it and decide to do the wrong thing.
  • One more tip — if the ID you lost was your driver’s license, tell your local DMV, too. They might be able to flag your license number if someone gets pulled over using it.

What is REAL ID? Do I need REAL ID to fly?

REAL ID is a tricky subject, but all you need to know right now is that you don’t need REAL ID to fly domestic until October 1, 2020.

Want to know more about REAL ID and flying domestic? Check out our guide here.

Can my child fly without an ID?

If you’re flying domestic within the US, children don’t need an ID to fly. As long as they’re accompanied by someone over the age of 18 who does have an acceptable form of ID, they’ll be allowed through security.

Of course, if you’re flying internationally, your child will need a passport.

Anything else?

Nope, that about covers it! Although, if you’re looking for advice on how to grab some sweet flight deals, we’ve got tons of ideas:

Last Minute Flight Deals for flights up to 50% off

Flexible on travel dates and just looking to get away? This page is updated weekly and provides great flight deals on popular routes around the world.

Month Search for the cheapest flights during the year

If you are in search of a last minute flight deal that meets your budget needs, then you should be flexible. This could mean choosing flight times that correspond to quiet periods at airports.

Everywhere Search for the cheapest flights anywhere

Another way to grab cheap flights is by being flexible with your destination, and the airport you’re flying from or to. Besides the price savings, you also get to explore a greater variety of destinations around the world without busting your budget.

Price Alerts for the best time to book

Signing up for price alerts is another great way to book cheap last-minute flights to your preferred airport destination. Set up price alerts for these great weekly deals by following our step-by-step-guide..

Multi-City Search – Book up to 6 destinations on the same trip!

Looking for more ways to save with Skyscanner’s search features? Check out how to search for multi-destination flights, with our Multi-City Search Tool so you can check off more than one destination during your trip, while still saving big time.

Ready to travel? Start your flight search here 👇