The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the deadline for travelers to obtain a REAL ID once again due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” Department Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement on Tuesday. “As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”
Originally slated for Oct. 1, 2021, U.S. citizens now have until May 3, 2023 to procure their REAL ID if they wish to use a state ID to board any domestic flight. Otherwise, travelers will need their passport.
When the Real ID’s do finally go into effect, travelers will either need their passports or the Real ID identifier to board a domestic flight. Real ID-compliant licenses feature a star in the upper portion of the ID.
Many DMVs have been operating at limited capacity over the past year due to the pandemic. The 19-month extension will give state DMVs more time to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards as the new process requires applicants to visit the DMV in person to complete the process.
When the new law goes into effect, non-compliant licenses will only be valid for age-regulated activities, like driving, buying liquor, or gambling at casinos. They will not be accepted to board a domestic flight or to enter any federal facility.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.