DHS Extends REAL ID Deadline

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended enforcement of the REAL ID requirement by 24 months, from May 3, 2023 to May 7, 2025. States will now have additional time to ensure their residents have driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the security standards established by the REAL ID Act. As required by the law, following the enforcement deadline, federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), will be prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards that do not meet the federal standards.

“DHS continues to work closely with U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories to meet REAL ID requirements,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card. DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.”

DHS said the extension is necessary, in part, to address the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card. REAL ID progress over the past two years has been significantly hindered by state driver’s licensing agencies having to work through the backlogs created by the pandemic. Many of these agencies took various steps in response to the pandemic including automatically extending the expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards and shifting operations to appointment only.

Airports Council International – North America praised the extensions. “We welcome the DHS announcement postponing the implementation of REAL ID requirements for individuals boarding commercial aircraft,” said Kevin Burke, ACI-NA president and CEO.  “Despite previous extensions to REAL ID implementation, the saturation of REAL ID compliant licenses and identification cards remains low.”

Burke added the extension will allow individuals more time to obtain compliant identification, helping to prevent undue travel disruptions and preserving the health of the aviation system as it continues to navigate the pandemic’s impact on global air travel.