Paper ID Only: Can You Still Fly?

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Flying on a plane today can be a lengthy process that requires you to have the proper identification, such as a driver’s license or state-issued ID. When gathering all articles needed to board your flight, it can be easy to assume you will already have your photo ID or driver’s license. But will it be enough if you arrive at the airport and realize you don’t have your actual license or ID but a copy instead?

Per the Transportation Security Administration or TSA, you cannot fly using a paper ID. A paper ID is not one of the forms that are on the list of recognized acceptable forms of identification for air travel. 

For the remainder of this article, I will discuss if different forms of ID can be used to pass through TSA. I will also discuss how they may help if not accepted as a primary ID.

Can You Fly With a Paper ID?

An ID is a necessity if you are planning to travel via plane. It is also something every adult is accustomed to carrying on a daily basis. Aside from an ID, your boarding card is another crucial document to take on your trip. Fortunately, a boarding card is one document that can be printed out at the airport should you forget to print it before you leave for your travels. 

Sometimes unforeseeable and unfortunate circumstances, such as misplacing your ID or even having it stolen, can occur. If one of these mishaps occurs and you cannot present your original ID through customs, will a paper copy suffice? 

According to the TSA and multiple airlines, you cannot fly with a paper ID. A physical copy of your driver’s license or another approved form of identification is required in order to board your travels. 

Can It Be Beneficial To Carry a Paper ID When Flying

Although you can not use a paper ID as permissible identification, having it in case, your actual ID is missing can be beneficial. A paper ID could be useful if you do not find your hard copy at the last minute. TSA has a system where they can use this form and other personal items to help authenticate who you are. 

Other pieces of information that can help the TSA in its validation process include:

  • Credit cards
  • Utility bills
  • Prescription medication with your home address and name
  • Voter registration
  • Birth certificate

Can You Use a Birth Certificate As ID?

You cannot use a birth certificate as your ID. Unfortunately, a birth certificate is not on the approved list of admissible identification provided by the TSA. Though if you have this document, your birth certificate can be used in conjunction with other personal forms to validate your identity.

Do I Need To Bring My Child’s Birth Certificate To Fly

Having your child’s birth certificate is unnecessary if they are over two years old. Frequently the airlines will need a way to confirm that your child is indeed under the age of two so bringing a birth certificate for younger children is helpful for them to do so. 

Older children do not need to bring any form of ID if traveling with a parent or another adult. However, if a child between the ages of fifteen to seventeen is traveling alone, they will need to carry some form of identification, such as their birth certificate. 

Other acceptable forms of ID for children fifteen through seventeen traveling alone include: 

  • Driver’s license
  • School ID card
  • Social Security Card
  • Passport

Can I Use a Paper Scan of My Passport for ID?

You cannot use a paper scan of your passport as an ID. You must have your original passport, and it needs to be in good condition in order to use it as your form of identification.

For domestic travel, a copy of your passport will not count as your form of ID. Like other paper copies, it can be used jointly with other documentation to get you confirmed by TSA.

Can I Use a Paper Scan of My Passport To Fly Internationally

A copy of your passport will not be enough for international travel, even for verification. It is essential to have your physical passport if you are traveling out of the country. This rule applies to both adults and children. No matter how old, everyone in the group must have a passport to fly internationally.

Ensuring all people in your company have their passports will help your travels to go more smoothly. It is also important to check all passports for any signs of damage well before the scheduled trip, if possible. 

Some defects in your passport to look for are:

  • Stains
  • Holes or tears
  • Information that has faded over time

Some airlines may not accept your passport and will not let you board if it is not in decent condition.

Check out this YouTube video that shows what happens if you forget your passport.

Can I Fly Using a Paper Driver’s License As ID?

You cannot fly using a paper driver’s license as ID. In order to pass through the security checkpoint, you have to obtain your driver’s license through a proper organization, such as the DMV. 

Even if you are able to obtain a temporary paper driver’s license through one of the correct organizations, it does not guarantee it will be allowed to be used as a permissible ID. TSA could still require you to present further personal information or documentation to pass through the checkpoint. 

Where Can I Get Temporary Paper ID?

You can acquire a temporary paper ID from the DMV. By visiting your state branch, you can receive this stand-in until you are able to obtain your permanent ID. Keep in mind not all states offer this service.

Visiting a local DMV to obtain a temporary ID is convenient if your actual ID is lost or stolen. There is a fee for this service, and each state has its rate. Most states participate in offering a temporary ID, though states such as California and Nevada do not.


When flying, you cannot use the following as ID to pass through the security checkpoint:

  • Paper ID
  • Birth certificate
  • Paper scan of your passport
  • Paper driver’s license

These items can be used with other personal documentation to aid TSA in verifying your identity.

In order to be permitted through, you must present your original driver’s license or another state-issued ID.

Should you need a temporary paper ID if yours becomes lost, one may be issued to you through a local DMV. Though not all states offer these services, and each state dictates the price.

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