Real ID deadline extended to 2023 due to ongoing pandemic: DHS

U.S. travelers won’t need a Real ID for another two years.

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the agency has extended the Real ID enforcement date because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the DHS will begin requiring travelers to have Real IDs for domestic air travel on May 3, 2023, according to an announcement. Previously, the enforcement date was Oct. 1, 2021.

According to the announcement, many states’ DMVs are operating at limited capacity because of the coronavirus pandemic, making it difficult for states to issue Real IDs and driver’s licenses.

"Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority," Mayorkas 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." 

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 as a way to tighten security measures for obtaining an identification card or license after 9/11, according to the DHS website. The act creates "minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards," the website says. 

Real IDs have a gold star in the top right corner and after May 3, 2023, adults who are traveling by plane domestically will be required to show a Real ID in order to go through security. 

Residents of all 50 states -- as well as Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories -- are issuing Real IDs, the DHS said in its announcement. 

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, many states are pushing back deadlines requiring residents to renew their expired licenses. 

Because of those measures, Real ID licenses and identification cards make up only 43% of state-issued IDs, so the extended May 2023 deadline will help make up for that.

"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," the agency said in its announcement.

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