Travelers will have another 19 months before they need to present Real ID-complaint identification to fly domestically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said today.
Saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the ability of states to issue Real ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards, and that only 43% of all state-issued IDs are currently compliant, the DHS extended Real-ID enforcement from this October to May 3, 2023.
The U.S. Travel Association, which began arguing for an extension to Real ID enforcement last fall, applauded the move.
"Getting to Real ID compliance on time was already going to be a challenge before Covid shut down DMVs for extended periods," Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel's executive vice president for public affairs and policy, said in a statement. "Significant travel disruption was likely if the deadline were allowed to hit, which the U.S. economy can't afford after a $500 billion decline in travel spending last year and millions of travel jobs lost to the pandemic."
The Real ID Act of 2005 requires American travelers to present a state-issued driver's license or identification card that meets increased security standards. The deadline for its enforcement has been extended several times, and even before the pandemic, lawmakers had pushed to head off travel disruption caused by the Real ID deadlines, such as allowing PreCheck membership to be an alternative to Real IDs at domestic airports and allowing people to submit electronic documents and facial images when applying for the IDs.
The Trump administration pushed back last year's deadline, Oct. 1, 2020, by one year, when the pandemic started.
As of now, starting May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 and older will need Real ID-compliant identification at security checkpoints for domestic travel, such as a state-issued, enhanced driver's license or another TSA-acceptable form of ID, such as a passport.
The DHS said that all U.S. states, the District of Columbia and four of five U.S. territories are now compliant with Real ID security standards and are issuing the corresponding licenses and IDs, but that appointment-only scheduling protocols during the pandemic has significantly limited their capacity to issue them.