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Thursday, May 6th, 2021

DHS extends deadline for enforcement on REAL ID

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be extending the full enforcement date for the REAL ID to May 3, 2023.

Due to the pandemic’s significant impact on state abilities to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, Mayorkas said DHS would put the enforcement date back by 19 months.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” said Secretary 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.”

Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler over the age of 18 will need a REAL ID-compliant form of identification, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other TSA-acceptable forms of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.

While the REAL ID Act covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories, only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are REAL ID-compliant. The original deadline for compliance was October 1, 2021.

U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, applauded the move.

“Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on for over a year and has drastically impacted REAL ID compliance rates, it is sensible that DHS has adjusted the implementation deadline accordingly,” Thompson said in a statement. “Even though COVID-19 numbers are improving every day, Americans should still not have to put themselves at risk by rushing to their DMV. Pushing back the deadline also gives Americans additional certainty as they slowly return to traveling. While all states are now REAL ID compliant, we still have a long way to go until all Americans have the proper credential. I thank Secretary Mayorkas for making this change and will continue to work with the Department on full implementation.”