REAL ID enforcement deadline gets another extension


(WATE) — The Department of Homeland Security is pushing back the deadline to begin REAL ID enforcement again.

The REAL ID Act of 2005 set a new federal standard for state-issued licenses in light of the 9/11 Commission report calling for tighter security. The license indication, noted by a gold circle with a star in the right corner of a driver’s license, is required for accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, including domestic flights.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the extension Tuesday from Oct. 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023, due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” said Mayorkas. “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 are covered by the REAL ID Act. Only 43% of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant. 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.

For more information on REAL ID, visit

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