If you’ve been waiting to get a REAL ID, there’s good news and bad news.
First, the good news: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the date for full REAL ID enforcement. The flip side of the coin, though, is that travelers now have less than 1 year to be in compliance.
Here’s what that means: Beginning May 3, 2023, every person who is 18 years or older and wants to fly domestically will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another form of identification approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to pass through airport checkpoints.
The extension of full enforcement is in place because many driver’s licensing agencies across the country were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, many have operated at limited capacity after reopening. And, of course, there is now a backlog of people who want to get a REAL ID.
“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, secretary of the DHS, 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.”
Why There’s A Need For REAL ID
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 to enact the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the U.S. federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production.
In 2013, the DHS announced a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act so it could be implemented in “a measured, fair, and responsible way.” Today, all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of the five U.S. territories are covered by the REAL ID Act.
Getting A REAL ID
If you plan to fly domestically after May 3, 2023, the simplest approach is to have a REAL ID since it also doubles as a driver’s license or form of state ID. It must be noted, though, that other valid forms of identification will still be accepted at airport checkpoints. These types of valid ID include a U.S. passport or a DHS-trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST).
You can learn more about valid forms of identification for flying domestically after May 3, 2023, here.
If you want a REAL ID, at a minimum, you’ll need to produce documents that provide your full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, two documents listing your principal address for residency, and your lawful status. It’s important to note that some states may impose additional requirements.
You can find an interactive map on the DHS website to find your state’s Secretary of State’s webpage. From there, you can determine which documents will be needed for your REAL ID, as well as make arrangements to visit your local DMV or other agency to apply for a REAL ID.
“The REAL ID law is for all Americans who want to fly out of any domestic airport across the country starting 1 year from now,” Gerardo Spero, TSA federal security director, said in a statement. “My advice is to go to your local state’s department of motor vehicles or department of transportation to get your upgraded REAL ID driver’s license now. Don’t wait.”
While you’re thinking of recent developments for air travel, be sure to read all of our travel news, including: