You can fly without an ID


IOW, show up 24 hours early.

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Couple years ago (~2009, 2010), I lost my drivers license before the return flight on a roundtrip ticket. I got to fly.

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Useful post, thanks.

I had my passport stolen on holiday once.

Took some work getting out of the Netherlands, but the police report eventually got me on board. At the UK end they just let me straight back in, despite having no ID. And I very much doubt the immigration control person could read Dutch.

Top tip; don’t leave your stuff in lockers in dodgy Amsterdam backpackers hostels when you go out for the day.


Like @getoffmylawn, I have flown without an ID and I know of other people that have flown without ID. One time flying out on a one-day business trip, for some reason I didn’t have my drivers’ license or passport with me. The TSA agent asked if I had a medical insurance card. I showed him my insurance car and a couple of credit cards, all with the same name. On the way back I told them what had happened and how we resolved it. That was enough for the TSA agent–he didn’t even check the cards…

Historical context:

I have done it.
Forgot my ID and would have missed my flight if I went home to get it.

For the record I lied and said it was lots.
Showed a couple credit cards and my health insurance card.

I’m sure it helped being a married white male travelling with my beautiful (and also white) wife.


Step 1: Be white
Step 2: Don’t be brown.


Good to know.
In Chicago, if you get pulled over and given a citation, they will take your drivers license until the fine is paid.
Since I have no other official ID, I always wondered what would I would do if this happened just before I had to fly somewhere.

First of all, this is an intentional lie for PR purposes. You “may not be able to fly” should say “will not be allowed to fly.”

Second of all, the issue is not whether or not you can fly without some particular ID. The issue is whether or not you can fly anonymously. And that is not allowed.

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That’s something that they’ve been considering as a problem for several years now. Most jurisdictions frown on taking licenses because of the need to use them for access to government buildings. Travel isn’t the only concern when it comes to state-issued i.d., there’s also the ability to get into court!

Here’s an article from 2008.


Those are ID. “ID” stands for “identifying documentation” or “identity documents”.

For many purposes, a utility bill is acceptable ID.

The TSA blog post that Mark quotes specifically says that you have to provide them with “some information that will help us determine you are who you say you are.” That’s a pretty precise definition of what ID is.


In order to ascertain my identity, please allow me to replicate my 10,000 word essay “Why Goku Would Beat Superman In A Fight”, posted ten years ago in the Slashdot comments section, under the name “SuperSaiyanBong420”.


How is this legal?!? The cop leaves the driver and his car stranded on the side of the road for a burnt out tail light? Obviously the person can’t drive, his license was taken away, what if some other cop spotted his burnt out tail light? He would be in a huge trouble. Isn’t Indiana one of those states where any random cop is allowed to ask for your ID at any point, and if you don’t provide it you can end up in jail?

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It only applies (applied?) to posting bail for moving violations, and you had a few options of how to handle it. From the 2008 article I linked above:

The state requires that drivers ticketed for a moving violation post bail in one of these ways:

*Pay $75 at the police station.

*Surrender a bond card (usually available from insurance companies).

*Give up their driver’s license.

*Signing tickets also can win release, but few officers do this.

Alternatives: DuPage County is experimenting with an electronic ticket, which could lead to drivers paying for tickets or bail with a credit card on the spot.

They didn’t just take your license for a fix-it ticket, and you also didn’t have to have it taken at all.

It helps to know an airline pilot. One of their cards can help you avoid the worst of the officiousness at least.

I’ve seen a pilot (granted, a senior pilot) vouch for someones identity through TSA and through the gate of an airline he didn’t fly for. He just talked to the captain. Professionalism matters.

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You are still allowed to drive but you have to use a copy of the paper ticket as your “license”.
The paper ticket won’t help you buy beer though.

Exactly. I can guarantee that any person without ID that doesn’t fit the very narrow socio-economic status definition i.e. [a WASP with a high Fico score], is not getting anywhere near a plane.

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Where I live the cops will give you 24 hours to produce your license, but if you don’t show up at the station house within that time period, a warrant will be issued for your immediate arrest. And once they catch you, you’ll dangle your feet in a holding cell until a judge has some spare time left on his docket, and then you’ll be charged with not only the original offense, but also a smorgasbord of other charges.