Feds push back Real ID deadline for air travelers

The Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the deadline for air travelers to get Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses.

The DHS said it is extending the Real ID enforcement date by 19 months, from Oct. 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity, the department said.

Only 43% of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently Real ID-compliant. In addition, DHS and various states need time to implement requirements mandated by the Real ID Modernization Act, including changes that will streamline processing by allowing the electronic submission of certain documents, the department said.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” said Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “As our country continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, extending the Real ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card.”

This is the second time the deadline has been pushed back. In March last year, the government postponed the deadline from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2021, because of the pandemic.

The law requires that anyone 18 years of age and older have a Real-ID compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another Transportation Security Administration-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.

Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses will also be required to enter certain federal buildings and military bases.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the act are now issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, many states have extended the deadline for renewing expiring licenses due to a widespread shift to appointment-only scheduling during the pandemic.

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