Deadline for real identification for air travelers extended by 2 years

Travelers stand in a security line at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, Nov. 22, 2022, ahead of Thanksgiving.
Travelers stand in a security line at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, Nov. 22, 2022, ahead of Thanksgiving.


Air travelers will now have two more years to update their licenses and other forms of identification to be Real ID Compliant.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday that the new deadline will be May 7, 2025, giving Americans more time following delays caused by the COVID pandemic. The old deadline was scheduled for May 3, 2023.

Americans wishing to exchange their license or ID card for a genuine compliant ID card, which has a star at the top of the card, must undergo more stringent ID verification upon application. According to DHS, Real ID security features are designed to prevent counterfeiting and fraud, using documentary evidence and record checks to confirm that travelers are who they say they are. Real ID will be required by travelers 18 years of age or older to board an aircraft, enter a federal building or military base. Passports, military IDs or Global Entry cards will also be eligible to pass through airport security.

The Real ID Act was passed following the September 11 terrorist attacks after several of the hijackers incorrectly obtained state credentials. All 50 US states, the District of Columbia and four of the five US territories are covered by the REAL ID Act.

By law, after the application deadline, federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), will not accept driver’s licenses and ID cards that do not meet REAL ID standards. .

Over the past decade, the REAL ID app has been repeatedly blocked after states failed to meet security requirements for issuing updated driver’s licenses. But officials say this time it’s the Covid-19 pandemic it’s the fault, preventing Americans from accessing state motor vehicle departments to retrieve the updated ID. According to DHS, Real ID’s progress over the past two years has been “significantly hampered” by driver licensing agency backlogs created by the pandemic.

According to a DHS official, states have the primary responsibility for increasing REAL ID’s adoption rate, which currently stands at 52%, according to data provided by the state.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Monday that the extension “will give states the necessary time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card.” adding that “DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible.”

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