Department of Homeland Security Extends REAL ID Enforcement Deadline by 19 Months Due to COVID Pandemic

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it would delay enforcement of the REAL ID until May 3, 2023, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

JFK International Airport As Air Travel Increases
travel . Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty

United States citizens will now have an additional 19 months to make sure they have a REAL ID.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it would delay enforcement of the REAL ID until May 3, 2023, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enforcement had already been delayed due to the pandemic. The deadline to obtain a REAL ID was initially Oct. 1, 2020.

Once it became clear that coronavirus-related shutdowns would cause delays, the deadline was extended to Oct. 1, 2021.

"Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

"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."

The REAL ID is an enhanced driver's license or identification card that features a star at the top.

Once full enforcement of the REAL ID goes into effect, Americans 18 and older will need one to go through security and board a plane.

It will also be required to enter many federal buildings.

DHS said Tuesday that only 43 percent of all state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant.

To get a REAL ID license, you need to present documentation showing your full legal name and date of birth (such as a birth certificate), your social security number, and two proofs of address. However, states may have additional requirements.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, as a security measure after concerns from the 9/11 Commission, according to Homeland Security. The Commission recommended that the nation "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses."

The recommendation came after the Commission found it was too easy for people to obtain a driver's license, thus posing a security risk, NPR reported.

Since the act was passed, the federal government has implemented TSA PreCheck, NPR reported. Travelers with TSA PreCheck won't need the REAL ID — a consideration that means "we're not just racing to catch up with the past," Hansen said.

Related Articles