The Real ID Act of 2005, which required U.S. travelers to carry more than a standard driver’s license to board domestic flights, was originally scheduled to go into effect on May 3, 2023. But after a delay of about 15 years, on Monday, the department’s Department of Homeland Security pushed back the enforcement deadline by another 24 months. Travelers now have until May 7, 2025 to update their documents.
The REAL ID Act is a post-September bill. Title 11 The law requires US travelers flying within the US to present a security-enhanced driver’s license or other TSA-approved identification, such as a passport, to a TSA agent. When the bill finally goes into effect, state driver’s licenses that don’t include a REAL ID stamp will no longer be accepted at airport security checkpoints across the country.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act after the discovery of nearly all hijackers who boarded commercial aircraft in September. On November 11, 2001, carrying a US driver’s license and state identification card, most of which were obtained fraudulently. The bill, which sets minimum standards for driver’s licenses and other types of ID, was originally scheduled to take effect in 2008. The bill has been extended several times, including twice during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The recent rollout has been marked by chaos. While REAL ID shows that applicants have been screened and approved by federal standards, these cards are issued by individual states, U.S. territories (except American Samoa, which is under review), and the District of Columbia. The application process varies by state, as does the look of the card: Real ID has an asterisk, but its placement is inconsistent.
In some states, including New York, Michigan and Minnesota, residents have the option to apply for an enhanced driver’s license, which matches REAL ID but is marked with a flag instead of an asterisk. Unlike Real ID, an EDL can also be used in place of a passport to travel to and from the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries.
In Washington State, residents can only apply for an EDL standard Real ID license, which cannot be used at all.
This time around, the May 3, 2023 deadline appears to be sticking, with state motor vehicle departments launching marketing campaigns to encourage residents to replace their documents in time. In many states, there is a fee to switch to REAL ID.
But this month, federal authorities determined that not enough citizens were ready for the change, said Dan Velez, a spokesman for the New England TSA, and decided to extend the deadline for another two years.
“Over the past two years, the advancement of REAL ID has been severely hampered by state driver licensing agencies,” Mr. Velez said. “The extension is necessary to give states the time they need to ensure that their residents obtain REAL compliant licenses or identification cards.”