The deadline requiring all plane passengers to have a REAL ID has once again been extended to May 3, 2023, from its previous deadline date of October 2021.

The REAL ID is the driver’s license or ID card that has been mandated and approved by the Department of Homeland Security. According to the DHS website:

The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.

While past deadline extensions resulted from states that weren’t able to meet the requirements in time, we can blame this one on the pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, agencies like state DMVs have had trouble getting REAL IDs to people because of the pandemic protocols in place. Many of them had to switch from in-person walk-in appointments to online appointments, and fewer spots were available. Services that could be completed in a day now took weeks, including getting REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act back in 2005 to increase security for travelers and federal personnel due to the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Congress aimed to have states adopt the security measures, but there were years of delays for several reasons; COVID has been the recent cause of the delay.

Do you have REAL ID?

Sample driver's license from Florida, complete with REAL ID starYour REAL ID is your driver’s license or your state ID. If you aren’t sure if your license is compliant, look for a gold star at the top right of the card. This is a visible indication that it meets the requirements. If it does, you can board a plane or visit a federal facility.

Other acceptable forms of REAL ID may vary from state to state. You can always visit the Department of Homeland Security’s page on the topic for your particular situation. You can also visit the page for further insights on travel restrictions and requirements.

The pandemic has presented some challenges for agencies to apply REAL ID compliance to citizens. This encouraged the change of deadline, and now officials within those agencies are applauding the move.

“Getting to Real ID compliance on time was already going to be a challenge before COVID shut down DMVs for extended periods. 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,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, who is the U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy.

The Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), which represents commercial airports in the U.S. and Canada, favors the new deadline.

“Extending REAL ID requirements until May 2023 will help provide additional time to educate travelers and ensure they have the ability to more easily apply to obtain REAL ID-compliant identification so they will be ready to travel,” Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of ACI-NA, said.

Will your kids need it?

Anyone under the age of 18 will not need an approved ID card if they are traveling domestically with an adult. As always, it is encouraged for travelers to research government sites for official information.

However, when your kids are old enough to get a driver’s license or state ID card, your state has already met the due date for compliance, so it’s just a matter of getting their ID card or driver’s license as they normally would.

Do you have your REAL ID yet? Have you encountered any issues if you haven’t had it? Were you able to fix it? What are you plans to get yours if you don’t have it? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.

Photo credit: Florida Department of Homeland Security (Public Domain)