WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending the deadline for air travelers to have REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or identification cards to 2023.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Tuesday that the REAL ID full enforcement date is being extended by 19 months, from Oct. 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023.
Starting on that date, every air traveler 18 years and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.
DHS cited the COVID-19 crisis as the reason for the extension, saying the pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL-ID cards, because driver’s licensing agencies are still operating at limited capacity and many have appointment-only scheduling limits.
As a result of these issues, DHS says only 43% of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant.
DHS says it and various states also need time to implement requirements mandated by the REAL ID Modernization Act, including changes that will streamline processing by allowing the electronic submission of certain documents.
“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” wrote Secretary Mayorkas 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.”