For a lot of travelers, flying can be a stressful occasion. In fact, the entire process of flying can get to the most seasoned of travelers, between leaving early to avoid traffic, the never-ending security lines, making sure all your carry-on liquids are the appropriate size, and printing your boarding pass. Even if you do everything correctly, there is the possibility of forgetting something, like your government issued ID that you need to show TSA before passing through security. The good news – while it’s not guaranteed, there’s still a good chance you will be allowed to board your flight without your ID if you follow the below tips.
Before Arriving at the Airport
File a police report: If you’re lucky enough to realize that you lost or misplaced your ID before arriving at the airport, the best thing you can do is file a police report. The report can establish when your ID went missing, and will verify your identity, which is crucial for convincing the airline and TSA you are who you say you are.
Arrive extra early: While it’s always a good idea to leave plenty of time before a departure flight (for both the long security lines and amazing terminal food choices nowadays!), if you’re trying to fly without a proper ID, you need to arrive at the airport extra early so security can interview you. While there is no standard practice, and travelers without ID are handled on a case-by-case basis, in most instances, you will be led to a private screening room by an officer and asked a serious of questions. The entire process could last up to an hour so plan accordingly.
At the Airport
Talk to the airline representative: When you get to the airport, you are going to need to skip the kiosks and speak directly to an airline representative at check-in. Be prepared to fully explain the situation leading to your stolen or lost ID (this is when having a police report will come in extra handy). Bring any other form of ID you may have that proves your identity. Sometimes airlines will accept credit cards, library cards, known traveler cards (Global Entry or NEXUS), business cards, or voter registration cards. Anything that can prove your identity and residence will be beneficial.
Stay calm and cooperate: After explaining your situation to the airline, be prepared to recount it to TSA. Even if the airline provides a boarding pass with a notation that you are traveling without ID, TSA is going to be asking questions. While it goes without saying to be kind and smile, make sure you remain calm and relaxed. If you give off a nervous or angry behavior, there is a good chance you will been seen as suspicious and not allowed through security. Lastly, be prepared for extra screening and security procedures even if TSA allows you through.
Find the nearest embassy: If you lose your ID overseas, it’s important to find the nearest US Embassy to get a replacement. Depending on the current demand of the embassy, a replacement can be issued within the week. To help the process, it’s recommended to have a copy of your passport, your return flight information, and a local police report if possible to speed the process along.
- Carry more than one form of government identification.
- Take photos of your passport and ID in case you need to show the airline or authorities.
- Never leave your luggage unattended and use hotel safes to lock up valuables.
- Always double check you have your ID before heading out.