Real ID deadline gets pushed back due to coronavirus

A view of an American Airlines ticket counter in Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on March 13, 2020 in Dallas, Texas.

Tom Pennington | Getty Images

With air travel at a near standstill amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security is extending the Real ID enforcement deadline a full year to Oct. 1, 2021.

“The federal, state and local response to the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline,” DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.

States across the country have temporarily closed or restricted access to departments of motor vehicles, which has prevented millions of people from applying for and receiving their new state-issued Real IDs, the statement said.

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For now, adults boarding any federally regulated aircraft can continue to use their current driver’s licenses as usual for domestic travel and wait until 2021 to obtain a Real ID-compliant license.

Alternative forms of identification, such as a passport, “enhanced ID,” Global Entry card or other acceptable forms of ID, will also be accepted at security.

“Extending the deadline will also allow the department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of Real IDs once the current health crisis concludes,” Wolf said. 

The rollout of Real IDs is the final phase of an act passed by Congress in 2005, in the wake of 9/11, which aimed to raise security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. The act prohibits federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees airport security, from “accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards,” according to the DHS. 

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