America’s overzealous ID policy

By | Category: Travel rumblings

As regular Just About Travel readers will know, I adore America. I find the food (think bagels in the Big Apple, barbecue ribs in Texas, clambakes in Boston and organic fare in California), diverse scenery (beaches, big cities and native American sites sit side by side) and enthusiasm of the people utterly irresistible.

But I am not so hot on America’s over zealous ID policy which basically requires you to carry your passport absolutely everywhere.

I’m the wrong side of 30 and while I might still feel and on occasions act like a twenty something, the reality is that I definitely look like what I am: a woman in her thirties. Yet I still get ID’ed everywhere I go in America  – be it a daytime pool party in Las Vegas (Nevada), a casino in Temecula (California), concert in Palm Springs (California) or – most recently – a honky tonk in Fort Worth, Texas.

At all of the aforementioned the clipboard Nazis have demanded to see some form of picture ID. As a Londoner who hasn’t been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, I don’t own a car (a luxury for anyone living in London) and therefore don’t have a driving licence.


And I really don’t feel comfortable carrying my passport out and about 24/7 – not when there’s really no need for me to do so. On a good day (read: when I am well rested and don’t have dark circles under my eyes), I could perhaps , at a push, pass for 30. But under 21? I think not!


Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking that I get stopped in the States because I look like a suspicious sort? Possibly – but I’m not the only one. In Fort Worth, an amenable looking couple who clearly had a good two decades on me got stopped outside of Billy Bobs Honky Tonk and, when they were unable to produce a passport or picture ID, turned away.


And last year in Las Vegas at the Marquee Dayclub Pool at The Cosmoplitan Hotel, a respectable looking man old enough to be my Grandfather was refused entry because – yes you’ve guessed it – he didn’t have his passport on him.


Of course some people like being ID’ed (they claim it makes them feel young again). Some people are odd. In my mind, America’s “check everyone regardless of how old they look” policy is more than a little ludicrous.


Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for ID’ing anyone who looks like they could be three years above or below the minimum legal drinking age (21) in America). But to ID those of us who are evidently twice or thrice as old as the youngest legal drinkers, is – for want of a better word – bonkers.

There’s a lot I love about America, but its culture of constant surveillance needs to be replaced with a good dose of common sense.

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