I turned 18 last July and I do not currently have a drivers license, nor a state ID (meaning I have no actual photo ID) .

However, I do have a passport.

Can I use this when people ask for ID, given that I'm in America as an American, for example, when I'm at the bank?

  • 21
    A passport is an actual photo ID. – ohwilleke Mar 19 at 19:01
  • I always show my passport when asked for ID. Last time I was asked for my driver's license, I couldn't find it. (I wasn't driving) – WGroleau Mar 20 at 1:58
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    @BenCrowell a passport bearer choosing to use that document for ID is very different from a legal requirement that citizens hold a specific document to be allowed to travel internally. – phoog Mar 20 at 3:35
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    Getting a state ID is still probably worthwhile. A state ID is much easier to carry around (fits in your wallet, unless you have a passport card) and will typically be easier and cheaper to replace if lost than a passport. – Zach Lipton Mar 20 at 8:05
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    @BenCrowell: "A passport is something you use to travel outside your country." - a passport is something that is pretty universally recognized not only within my country, but also abroad. Extremely convenient. Why make things more complicated by requiring different kinds of documents depending on the context when the actual purpose (identification) is the same? – O. R. Mapper Mar 20 at 10:55
up vote 16 down vote accepted

Yes. A domestic passport is sufficient photo ID for any purpose (other than driving or establishing state residency) and is expressly authorized as sufficient ID for employment on a form I-9 and for banking "know your customer" rules.

Indeed, for some purposes, even an expired passport is sufficient ID as it establishes citizenship.

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    "other than driving": because the main function of a driver's licence is not in fact to serve as identification, but, as indicated by its name, to serve as proof that the state has deemed the bearer qualified to drive. Its function as an identification document is secondary. – phoog Mar 20 at 3:23
  • @phoog No, identification is a co-primary purpose of a driver's license in the US. That's why there's pictures, physical description and anti-fraud measures and Real ID. It is also why states issue non-driving ID through the DMV. Compare this to other countries, such as the pre-EU UK driving license, which was a folded piece of paper without even a photograph, or China and Japan who only put name, DOB and a photo on theirs. – user71659 Mar 20 at 3:45
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    @user71695 perhaps today, but this purpose is certainly secondary if you look at the history of driver licensing in the US. The original purpose of listing identifying data was to prevent license fraud (using a license that doesn't belong to you). My point is, however, that it's not necessary to have an ID when driving; it's necessary to have a driver's license, so of course a passport is not sufficient. – phoog Mar 20 at 3:54
  • @user71659 All of those things are also useful to prove that the driving license is genuine and yours and thus entitles you to drive. – David Richerby Mar 20 at 14:08
  • @DavidRicherby It's convenient but it isn't a necessary part of a driver's license. Look at the Hong Kong driver's license, all it has is your name. No photo, no DOB, no description. It needs to be presented along with a HKID card for proof of identity. This is the exact point that the US driver's license/state ID card serves as identity as well as driving licensing. Countries with compulsory ID schemes typically do not merge the two documents, as the US does. – user71659 Mar 21 at 14:35

It depends on what you are using it for. AFAIK, there is no law specifying that a passport must be valid for every single potential requirement of photo ID.

For example, until 2010, you could not use a passport for purchasing alcohol in California, because it does not have a physical description.

I use my passport all the time for ID when flying commercially. I find it kind of bulky/clumsy to use other day to day activities. Drivers License suffices for those activities. OP should get one. All adults should know the rules of the road and how to drive. In many states, one is considered an inexperienced driver and faces higher insurance costs until they have 6 years of driving experience, and cannot rent a car until 25. Get your license early and start accruing the experience.

protected by feetwet Mar 20 at 13:29

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