KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Within the last few years, federal and state governments have had to postpone the deadline for people to obtain a Real ID due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which left millions uncertain as to when they were eligible to apply for the enhanced identification card.

A Real ID, also stylized as “REAL ID,” was a law passed in 2005 that establishes minimum security standards for license and identification issuance/production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting identification cards not meeting the 2005 Act’s standards. In order to travel on domestic air flights, people 18 years and older will need to have a Real ID card.

The original Real ID deadline had been moved back to October 2021, but currently, the new deadline is set for May 2023.

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. 

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says a Real ID will cost the same as current Tennessee licenses and IDs. The state also says while you are not required to get a Real ID-compliant license or identification card, there are some reasons you may want to upgrade your TN driver’s license or ID such as for access to domestic commercial flights, federal buildings or to enter nuclear power plants; or for obtaining an additional level of security to protect your identity.

When applying for a Tennessee Real ID, there are several required documents you’ll need to bring with you after you make an appointment with your local DMV:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal presence
  • Proof of your full Social Security number
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency
  • All documents must be originals or certified; no photocopies accepted.

DHS said back in April 2021 that 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.

“However, 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,” DHS said. “As a result, only 43 percent 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.”

More information about Tennessee’s REAL ID can be found on its website.