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Deadline for REAL ID extended, giving US air travelers a reprieve

<i>Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>The deadline for REAL ID has been extended. Airline passengers here wait at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint to clear security before boarding flights in Denver
AFP via Getty Images
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
The deadline for REAL ID has been extended. Airline passengers here wait at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint to clear security before boarding flights in Denver

By Geneva Sands and Forrest Brown, CNN

If you’ve been sweating out that latest deadline for REAL ID required for US air travel, you’re getting another reprieve.

The US federal government has yet again delayed nationwide security requirements for driver’s licenses and other identification cards, giving states more time to issue REAL IDs to residents.

The identification requirements were expected to kick in this coming spring. But they will be delayed another two years until May 7, 2025. That’s another 883 days away.

Once the new deadline is reached, US travelers 18 and older and taking domestic commercial flights in the United States must have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other state photo identity card.

And it’s not just for air travel. The ID will also be needed to access certain federal facilities.

It’s marked by a star on the top of the card. Passports and other forms of approved identification will still be accepted.

Why was the REAL ID deadline pushed back?

The Department of Homeland Security, which manages the REAL ID program, blamed the latest extension partly on the “lingering impacts” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over the past two years, progress has been “significantly hindered by state driver’s licensing agencies having to work through the backlogs created by the pandemic,” DHS said in a statement.

During the height of the pandemic, for example, many of the state agencies automatically extended the expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards and shifted operations to appointment only, according to DHS.

Similarly, DHS pushed back the deadline last year, citing the pandemic and the need to implement requirements mandated by the REAL ID Modernization Act, such as those related to electronic document submission.

‘Extension will give states needed time’

“DHS continues to work closely with US states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories to meet REAL ID requirements,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

“This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”

The move toward minimum security requirements for travel documents dates back to 2005 when Congress passed the REAL ID Act, stemming from a 9/11 commission recommendation.

In a FAQ segment of its website, DHS said “all states are on track to begin issuing compliant licenses and IDs” by the May 7, 2025, deadline.

Also, “Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards,” the site said early Monday afternoon.

How to get a REAL ID

If you don’t have a REAL ID yet, the DHS advises that you “visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation is required to obtain a REAL ID.

At a minimum, DHS says you’ll need to provide the following documentation showing:

• Your full legal name
• Date of birth
• Social Security number
• Two proofs of address of your principal residence
• Lawful status

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Top image: Airline passengers wait at TSA checkpoint to clear security at the airport terminal in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

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