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Dept. of Homeland Security pushes back REAL ID enforcement deadline to May 3, 2023

Enforcement was scheduled to begin October 1, but the COVID-19 pandemic affected many states' ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and ID cards.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Note: The video above is from 2019.

If you've been putting off getting your REAL ID ahead of the October 1 deadline, you're in luck.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced Tuesday that the full-enforcement date of REAL ID has been pushed back 19 months, from October 1 of this year to May 3, 2023.

The decision to delay full enforcement of REAL ID is due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has "significantly impacted states' ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards," the department said.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” Mayorkas said in a press release. “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 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.  

All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the REAL ID Act and related regulations are now compliant with REAL ID security standards and are issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, Mayorkas said. 

But many state licensing agencies have extended the deadline for renewing expiring licenses due to a widespread shift to appointment-only scheduling protocols during the pandemic that has significantly limited states’ capacity to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, he added.

As a result, only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant, the department said.

DHS 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, according to Mayorkas.

DHS continues to work closely with all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories to implement REAL ID Act requirements. For more information on REAL ID, visit www.dhs.gov/real-id.

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