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Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Congress passes REAL ID Modernization Act

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The U.S. Congress has passed the REAL ID Modernization Act, which updates identification requirements set 15 years ago by the 9/11 Commission.

“This new law marks another important step toward meeting the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations to close dangerous vulnerabilities to terrorist travel and fraud,” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said. “With this authority, the Department can help states better streamline the identity document issuance process before the October 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.”

Currently, all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia have issued more than 114 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. This represents about 42 percent of all driver’s licenses and identification card holders. The deadline for all Americans to have a REAL ID is October 1, 2021. On that day, the new IDs will be required at all federally regulated airports, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants. DHS urges Americans to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card or an acceptable alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card, before the Oct. 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.

The REAL ID Modernization Act allows states to accept the identity and lawful status information from individuals using electronic transmission methods and reuse existing photographs, under certain conditions, to issue current driver’s licenses or identification cards and stored as part of their official state record.

It also lays the groundwork for future REAL ID-compliant mobile/digital driver’s licenses to individuals holding a valid REAL ID compliant physical DL/ID. In addition, the act allows applicants to provide their social security number without having to bring in a separate document containing the social security number during the application process. The bill also states that aircraft operators and third-party reservation entities must notify airline travelers of REAL ID enforcement 90 days before the enforcement deadline.

Americans should check their state-issued driver’s license or identification card for the star in the upper left- or right-hand corner. If the star is present, the ID card is REAL ID compliant. More information regarding REAL ID is available on the DHS website.