Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID? [2023]

Okay, so you messed up and don’t have an ID but you need to catch a flight. What can you do? Well, you might be surprised to find out that you still might actually be able to board the plane even without an ID.

In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about getting through TSA without an ID. I’ll talk about both domestic and international flights and explain what the process is like for verifying your identity.

Can you get through TSA with no ID?

Yes, you can get through a TSA security checkpoint and board your plane without an ID. However, you will be subject to an identity verification process and also likely subjected to a heightened security screening. Keep reading below and I will break it all down for you.

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IDs accepted by TSA

Before jumping in to the steps of what to do when you don’t have a standard ID (e.g., a driver’s license), first you should make sure that you don’t have an alternative form of ID that is accepted by TSA. TSA accepts over a dozen different types of identification, so chances are you might have one of these on you already.

Below is a list of IDs accepted by TSA:

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)**
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • 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
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

Make sure that your name used for your booking matches your ID since changing your name on a ticket can be a challenge.

**Be aware that beginning May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state issued ID or license to fly within the US, it needs to be REAL ID compliant. They extended the REAL ID deadline many times in the past but it appears that this time, there will be no extension so make sure you are ready.

If you’ve gone through all of those possibilities and you still do not have any qualifying form of identification then it is time to go through the identity verification process with TSA. Don’t worry — it’s usually not that bad!

Different ID cards
TSA accepts a lot of different forms of ID.

TSA Identification verification process

If you have not arrived to the airport yet, do your best to arrive to the airport extra early because the verification process could take a long time.

The standard recommended time for arriving before a domestic flight is two hours so logically you would want to arrive at least two hours prior to your departure. (I would shoot for 2.5 to 3 hours prior to the flight.)

But the time required might also depend on the type of airport you are at.

If you are at a well-equipped, larger airport with lots of resources the agents there probably have more experience with this identity verification process and so the process could be much more streamlined.

That may not be the case at a much smaller, regional airport. You could imagine how long the process described below could take if you are dealing with a TSA agent who has never had to deal with the verification process before.

If you are already at the airport and just realized that you do not have your ID, hopefully you are not in a rush. If you have very limited time (30 minutes to get to boarding) there’s a chance that there will not be enough time for them to verify your identity and you may want to go ahead and just reschedule your flight if possible.

But if you do have time to spare then it could be worth it to go through the identity verification process.

Related: TSA Checklist (Tips & PDF)

Tucson international airport entrance

Identity Verification Call Center (IVCC)

If you realize that you do not have an ID your first step is to approach a TSA agent and let them know that you do not have an ID and that you would like to go through the verification process so that you can still board your flight.

They are likely going to ask you for the following:

  • Name
  • A photo
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth

They will also request for you to supply two forms of secondary ID. The secondary form of ID can take a lot of different forms and these include:

  • Library card
  • Business card
  • Social Security card
  • Student ID
  • Mail
  • Credit cards
  • Photo of an ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Prescription with your name on the label

If your wallet or ID was stolen then it would be very helpful for you to have a police report to back up your claim. If you are traveling with family members who do have an ID and you have photos of you together with them that can also help bolster your case.

The more documents you can supply, the better.

In some cases, showing some of the above documents may be enough for your identity to be verified but in other cases it might not be enough.

TSA states that, “If your identity cannot be verified with the provided documentation, you may be required to go through an alternative identity verification process, which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information, and asking personal questions to help confirm your identity.”

You may also be asked to fill out a special form.

If your identity cannot be verified then a TSA agent may resort to the Identity Verification Call Center (IVCC).

In this situation, an agent on the other side of the phone will attempt to verify your identity and possibly ask you some personal questions. They will accomplish this by running your name against a database and looking for you to confirm answers to questions.

These questions could be similar to those identity verification questions that pop up when you attempt to do something like check your credit score on Credit Karma. But they also could be more random or a little bit deeper so be prepared to jog your memory as best you can.

If you are not able to answer the questions accurately or if you simply refuse to then you will not be able to proceed through the TSA security checkpoint and therefore you will not board your flight.

It’s worth pointing out that if you are traveling with an outstanding arrest warrant and you have to go through the identification verification process there is a good chance your warrant will be discovered and you could be arrested.

Get through security

After you have verified your identity, your journey is not complete. You will still need to go through the airport security checkpoint but you can expect to have to go through heightened security.

Most likely, a TSA agent will ask you to step aside while they go through the extra security steps with you. The exact process that you will have to go through will depend on the discretion of the TSA agents but some things that you can expect to encounter include:

  • Invasive pat down
  • Thorough search of all your belongings which means you will likely have to remove objects from your luggage
  • Extra x-ray scans
  • Swabs

The process will likely be similar to what you would experience if you were to have SSSS on your boarding pass.

I’m not sure what happens if you don’t have an ID but you have TSA Pre-Check, which normally allows you to bypass the main security line. I highly doubt that they would allow you to get in the Pre-Check line but stranger things have probably happened.

Related: TSA No Fly List Explained 

TSA agent searching a man
Expect a more invasive search if you do not have an ID.

Boarding the plane

Once you get through the security checkpoint, you can finally make your way to the gate for boarding. Your boarding pass should have a note that you do not have an ID on you and that should be enough to substitute for your ID to get you on a plane.

If you want to visit an airport lounge like a Centurion Lounge typically they will ask to see your identification. It’s not clear to me if airport lounges will allow you to enter without a valid ID. But you would think that if your TSA authenticated identity is good enough for boarding an airplane, it should be good enough to stroll into a lounge.

Once you arrive at the gate area, I would recommend to quickly check in with an agent at the gate and let them know that you have a boarding pass with no ID but that you have been verified by TSA.

That should help prevent any confusion at the time of boarding just in case the agents are not familiar with how to deal with the process.

Don’t try anything “funny”

If you don’t have your ID with you or any other secondary forms of ID, you might be tempted to try to sneak your way through security or try some other type of “funny business.”

This is a very bad idea because in addition to a potential criminal violation, you could also get hit with a civil fine from TSA.

So even if you are under stress trying to figure things out, don’t make any false statements or do anything that could be construed as you trying to circumvent security.

International flights

The situation is much different for international flights. You must have a passport to leave the country in almost every circumstance. Therefore, if you do not have a passport then you will almost certainly be grounded.

If you are currently abroad and you do not have a passport you should contact the local embassy or consulate and they will be able to help you based on your needs.

In some cases, they can issue you a limited-validity passport that allows you to gain entry back into the US but does not come with full travel privileges to visit other countries. If you don’t have an ID and there is an urgent emergency you should be able to get your request expedited.


Can you get a refund if you forget your ID?

Unfortunately, most airlines will not refund your ticket if you simply lost your ID. You may be able to negotiate with them so that you can board a later flight.

What age is required to have an ID to fly?

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion that has acceptable identification.

Can I travel with an expired ID?

Acceptable forms of ID cannot be more than 12 months past the identified expiration date. However, TSA has made exceptions and you can read more about expired IDs here.

What counts as a secondary form of ID?

There are a lot of different types of documents that can qualify as a secondary form of ID and some of these include:

Library card
Business card
Social Security card
Student ID
Credit cards
Photo of an ID
Prescription with your name on the label

Final word

Getting through TSA without an ID requires you to jump through a few extra hoops. As long as you give yourself enough time and comply with the process, you should still be able to board your plane without major issues. However, if you are departing on an international flight you likely will not be able to board your plane without a valid passport.

Do Children Need ID to Fly? (Domestic & International) [2022]

Are you thinking about flying with a child but not sure as to what type of ID they will need to get through airport security? It’s not always 100% clear as to what your child under the age of 18 will need.

In this article, I will break down both the TSA and airline requirements for children under the age of 18.

You’ll see how things like proof of age are handled for both domestic and international flights and get a sense of what type of IDs are acceptable.

Do children need ID to fly?

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling within the United States.

However, US airlines each handle ID requirements differently for travelers under 18 and TSA recommends that you contact the airline for questions regarding their specific ID requirements.

Here is how it usually works:

Typically, if the child is under 18 but flying with an adult who has an ID, the child will not need identification. However, if they are under the age of 18 and traveling alone some airlines may require some form of identification or proof of age.

In addition, when flying as an unaccompanied minor, the child may need some type of ID or proof of age in order to check in.

For international travel with children under 18, all airlines will require a passport and some airlines may request supporting documentation. For example, the parents may need to sign off that the child has permission to travel internationally.

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Domestic travel

Most airlines state that children under the age of 18 do not need an ID with them when flying with adults (people 18 and above).

But when kids under 18 are flying alone, it gets a little complicated.

First, they may have to fly as an unaccompanied minor if they fall within that age window.

The age window for unaccompanied minors differs for each airline but you can find a breakdown of the policies for each major US airline here.

If the child has to fly as an unaccompanied minor, the airline may want you to show some form of identification or proof of age such as a birth certificate when you’re checking in.

If the minor is older than the maximum age for an unaccompanied minor, they may have to bring ID.

For example, United Airlines is very clear that they require identification documents for children ages 15 to 17. Hawaiian Airlines also requires kids to have IDs unless they are with someone 18 and older who has an ID.

But some airlines require no ID for young kids, even when flying alone. For example, Southwest will allow children 12 and older to fly by themselves with no form of identification.

With that said, it’s good practice to always have some form of identification on the child at all times. Not just for check-in but also in case anything comes up during their travels.

Airline policies for kids’ IDs

In the sections below, you’ll notice that many airlines use the words “may” or “recommended” when talking about proof of age or identification needed. For example, “proof of age may be needed….”

This can make things a little bit vague when you’re trying to find out a clear answer on what will be needed for your child’s identification.

This is why I think it’s a good idea to follow the recommendation by the airlines and always have children carry around an ID or proof of age documentation.

These typically will be a student ID or birth certificate but other forms may work as well such as:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Credit card
  • Company ID
  • Library card
  • Social Security card
  • Organization ID (such as athletic club, etc.)
  • Proof of auto insurance in passenger’s name

It’s always best to just check with the airline to see if your type of ID will be helpful or necessary.

Having a child carry around an ID is always a good idea but this is especially true if the child looks much different than their age.

A child that looks much younger than their age may look like they need to qualify as an unaccompanied minor which could raise red flags.

And a child that looks much older than they are could make them look like they are 18 or above and in need of an official ID.

International travel

International travel is much different than domestic travel when it comes to kids needing IDs.

If a child is traveling internationally they will be expected to provide the same documentation that an adult would provide.

Usually, this means that the child will need a passport and possibly a visa. If the child is traveling without any adults on an international route they also may need a letter of consent.

And finally, some countries have special requirements for documents when flying with children to prevent things like human trafficking so be sure to be aware of those.

Below, we will take a look at the individual policy for major US airlines.

As mentioned above, it’s not always 100% clear as to what the policy is because it sounds like discretion can be used at times. So my advice is to always be prepared with some form of age verification.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines requires each traveler aged 18 or older to present valid government-issued ID and show it to a customer service agent and at the security checkpoint.

Children under the age of 18 don’t need photo ID when they are traveling domestically.

This took me by surprise a little bit because it means that a 16-year-old can fly on Alaska Airlines without having to show any type of ID, even if they are flying alone. However, I spoke with a representative from Alaska Airlines and they verified that this is correct.

(In fact, when I contacted multiple airlines I realized that children who are above the unaccompanied minor age limit typically do not need IDs to fly when flying alone.)

Minors (under age 18) traveling internationally without both parents may be required to present a letter of consent signed by any/all non-traveling parents.

Related: Alaska Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy (Junior Jetsetters) 

Link to Alaska’s policy

American Airlines

American Airlines states that you “may have to present proof of age like a birth certificate for any children under the age of 18.”

They do not seem very clear-cut about things but basically it just sounds like it would be a good idea to have a proof of age document on hand in case it is needed.

American Airlines has an unaccompanied minor policy that requires children aged five through fourteen to be accompanied through the airport for an additional fee. And once again, the proof of age documentation may be needed here as well. 

Children or infants traveling outside the U.S. are required to have the same documentation as an adult. If anyone under 18 is traveling internationally without both parents, they may be required to present a Letter of Consent.

Link to American Airlines’ policy

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines states that children under 18 years of age do not need to present an ID when traveling domestically.

But they also point out that:

Children ages 15-17 are permitted to travel as a standard passenger, provided they can present a valid ID to security personnel. If parents or guardians prefer, they can also travel as an unaccompanied minor.

This would suggest that unless they are flying as an unaccompanied minor, children 15 and above will need a valid ID when flying alone. But a Delta phone rep contradicted this so IDs may not be needed.

Delta Airlines requires children aged five through fourteen to be accompanied through the airport.

Link to Delta Airlines’ policy

Hawaiian Airlines

Children and teenagers under 18 years of age do not need an ID when traveling with a companion who has a valid ID. I spoke with a Hawaiian Airlines representative who stated that the companion with a valid ID would need to be 18 years or older.

So according to that rep, if a 15-year-old is trying to fly with no ID and they are accompanied by a 17-year-old with an ID, that would NOT be sufficient. The ID holder must be 18 or older.

Kids 12 and over can fly by themselves as long as they have some form of ID such as a school ID card or birth certificate.

Children under 12 may have to travel as a unaccompanied minor if they are not accompanied by someone who is at least 15 years old and in the same class of service as the child.

As for the international policy, they state, “All travelers, including infants and children, must have a valid U.S. passport when traveling internationally. A visa may also be required for entry at your destination.”

Related: Hawaiian Airlines Unaccompanied Minor Policy Guide 

Link to Hawaiian Airlines’ policy


Customers 18 years of age and older will be required to show a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID that contains the following information: name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature.

Children under the age of 18 and traveling on a domestic flight do not need to show identification or documentation unless they are under 14 days old or traveling as a lap child. This means that a 15-year-old could fly on JetBlue without needing to present any type of ID, for example.

Worth noting: JetBlue requires children ages five through thirteen traveling without an accompanying passenger aged 14 or older to travel as unaccompanied minors (UMs). 

For international routes, a valid passport is required for all customers (regardless of age) who are traveling to/from the United States and any country in the Western Hemisphere. World Passports are not accepted for travel on any JetBlue flight.

Link to JetBlue’s policy

Southwest Airlines

Neither Southwest Airlines nor the TSA require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling within the United States.

Basically if a kid is 12 and older they can fly alone without needing an ID. If they are younger than that, they will be flying as an unaccompanied minor, which are children ages 5 to 11 traveling without an accompanying passenger age 12 or older.  

These children must be escorted to the airport by a guardian and provide proof of age documentation such as a birth certificate.

For international travel, a passport book for each minor (and all Passengers) must be verified by a Customer Service Agent or kiosk at the Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter on the day of travel before a boarding pass is issued.

Minors under the age of 18 are not permitted to fly unaccompanied on international flights or any itinerary that includes an international flight.

Link to Southwest Airlines’ policy

Spirit Airlines

Passengers 18 years of age or older must have valid, government-issued photo identification.

Spirit Airlines requires children ages five through fourteen traveling without an accompanying passenger aged 15 or older to travel as unaccompanied minors (UMs). 

Guests 15 years old and older are not required to have Unaccompanied Minor service, but they may be asked to present a picture ID or birth certificate to verify their age.

So once again, we see the “may” be asked language when it comes to showing verification of age. This also is an example of where the solo-flyer ID requirement starts to come into the picture when a child hits about 15 years old.

Link to Spirit Airlines’ policy

United Airlines

Children under the age of 18 traveling with an adult are not required to show ID at time of check-in. However, children ages 15 to 17 traveling alone need one of the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Credit card
  • School ID
  • Company ID
  • Library card
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Organization ID (such as athletic club, etc.)
  • Proof of auto insurance in passenger’s name

Children ages 5 to 14 traveling alone are not required to show ID at time of check-in, however, they are encouraged to carry some form of ID during travel.

United requires children between the ages of five to 14 years old traveling without an adult (someone at least the age of 18) to use United’s unaccompanied minor service.

Link to United Airlines’ policy

Final word

When flying with someone 18 years or older that has an ID, it seems that most of the airlines will not require a child to have an ID and neither will TSA.

Unfortunately, it’s not always 100% clear as to what type of proof of age or identification a child will need when flying alone.

Some airlines have very clear age requirements for bringing IDs or proof of age but others state that these may be needed or that they are encouraged which means that discretion could be involved.

Because of that, the best practice would be to have any child flying alone to always carry some form of proof of age or identification.