The deadline for obtaining the ID card required to board a domestic flight has been pushed back again, with the Department of Homeland Security citing the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the slower than expected rollout.
The deadline for a real ID was May 3, 2023, but DHS announced Monday that it had been pushed back two years to May 7, 2025.
“This extension gives states the time needed to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a press release. “DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure the American public can travel safely.”
People are issued compliant IDs when they renew their driver’s licenses, but DHS said the pandemic has left state driver licensing agencies with backlogs. Due to the backlog, many state agencies that issue driver’s licenses automatically extended the expiration dates of licenses and ID cards instead of issuing licenses and cards that meet the Real ID requirement.
After the May 2025 deadline, domestic travelers 18 years and older traveling on commercial flights will be required to have a Real ID compliant driver’s license or government photo ID. Real ID is also required to enter some federal facilities, such as military bases.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The new form of ID includes anti-counterfeiting technology and uses documentary evidence and records to ensure an individual is who they say they are.
Enforcement has been delayed several times since the original 2008 deadline. Most recently, in April 2021, DHS deadline extended through May 2023 and also cited how COVID-19 made it difficult for states to issue new licenses.
A DHS spokeswoman said Tuesday that about 52% of state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards are considered Real ID compliant. That’s up from 43% in April 2021.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia and four of the five US territories covered by the Real ID Act issue Real ID compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. According to DHS, American Samoa is under review for Real ID enforcement.
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