As you may recall, almost a year ago the REAL ID Act issue was in the news. In fact, for those of you holding a Missouri driver’s license, this information really affected you. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is poised to stop recognizing Missouri driver’s licenses as proof of identification for government operated facilities. Since airports are considered a government operated facility, the TSA can prevent travelers with Missouri driver’s licenses from entering the secured gates of an airport. The primary reason; Missouri and Maine are the only states that have driver’s licenses that do not conform to security features that contain machine-readable data chips.

Unfortunately, as we enter 2017, nothing has changed. Effective next year, January 17th, 2018, Missourians could be denied admittance to airports for domestic flights. For those travelers boarding international flights, passports are required, so access will be allowed. This means, as of now, in order to board a domestic flight next year, those with Missouri or Maine driver’s licenses will need to prove their citizenship with a United States passport. 

While it may seem easy enough to acquire or renew a passport, the State Department is warning the public that there’s about to be a massive backlog of passport applications. Spring and summer travel overseas are always very high, and over 60% of all passports issued by the United States occur between January and May. Additionally, passports themselves are going to change in appearance. 

One of the main reasons is that in 2007, an important piece of travel legislation made American passports much more in-demand. The State Department saw an "unprecedented surge" in applications that year when a law enacted by the 9/11 Commission established passports as necessary for all travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Because of the legislation, millions of travelers acquired 10-year passports, and now they're all about to expire. It's safe to assume many of those passport holders will need to renew, which means that passport applications will jump significantly once again.

Following is an article from USA Today with more information about the expected passport application delays and the passport changes coming in the years ahead...

U.S. passport changes are coming: Here’s what you need to know

Source:  USA Today - Shannon McMahon for SmarterTravel.com

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Passport changes are coming, and if you plan on traveling in the future — especially if you’re among the 49 million Americans whose passports will expire in the next few years — you need to know what passport changes are in store.

While it may seem easy enough to acquire or renew a passport if and when you plan a trip, the State Department says there’s about to be a massive backlog of passport applications. (More on that in a minute.) Plus, passports themselves are going to change. Here’s what you should know about both the expected passport application delays and the passport changes coming in the years ahead.

You should renew your passport now

A decade ago, an important piece of travel legislation made American passports much more in-demand. The State Department saw an "unprecedented surge" in applications when a 2007 law enacted by the 9/11 Commission established passports as necessary for all travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Millions of travelers acquired 10-year passports that year as a result, and now they're all about to expire. It's safe to assume many of those passport holders will need to renew, which means that passport applications will jump significantly once again.

Concerned about wait times yet? Passport renewal already takes about six weeks, and many destinations require foreign passports to be valid for months after your trip. Factor in unknown delays, and you might have a lot less time to renew than you thought.

REAL ID changes aren’t helping

A newer federal law, the REAL ID Act, will soon enforce updates to all state-level identification in the form of security features like machine-readable data chips. Now people in some states that are lagging behind in the technology are realizing that their licenses might soon be invalid for air travel — even on domestic trips. That could mean a rise in passport applications as well.

Travelers using IDs issued by certain states — for example, Maine and Missouri — could be turned away at the gate starting in 2017 if their state doesn't adjust to the new standards in time. Some states are under review and have been given a deadline extension, but all licenses must comply with the standards by 2020. Frequent travelers worried that their state won't comply in time may go ahead and renew or acquire a passport instead.

Click here to view the entire article and to learn about new security features and the process for renewing your passport