The Department of Homeland Security has delayed the requirement for air travelers to have a Real ID-compliant form of identification by 19 months.
The deadline was supposed to be Oct. 1 of this year, but has been postponed until May 3, 2023. Similar delays in the past have been the result of a lack of full state compliance with the requirements for issuing the more secure driver’s licenses. However, the new delay is due to the pandemic that has made it harder for people to get into driver testing facilities and get the new IDs.
Officials say that extending the Real ID full enforcement deadline will give states time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card.
Real ID compliant cards are issued after a more thorough check of an applicant’s identification. They incorporate new security features that make them harder to counterfeit. Under the Real ID Act, passed by Congress after the 911 terror hijackings of 2001, travelers 18 or older wanting to board an airplane by using a driver’s license for identification must have one that conforms to the law’s stricter requirements.
The new licenses bear a star on the upper right-hand corner. The requirement was delayed repeatedly over the past decade, at first because states said they were not prepared for the new rules.
The DHS postponed the effective date after the COVID pandemic made it harder for drivers to get to local motor vehicle departments. Now it is being delayed again for the same reason. The DHS has noted many state licensing agencies have shifted to appointment-only scheduling during the pandemic, limiting their capacity to issue the new licenses.