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REAL ID Deadline Extended Again

The Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for enforcement of

Katie Hultgren

REAL ID compliance by an additional nineteen months. Individuals wanting to board an airplane with only their driver’s license or state-issued ID card as identification for domestic travel now have until May 3, 2023 to obtain a REAL ID. With so many other things to consider while traveling during the days of COVID-19, the extension of this deadline provides airline passengers more time to comply with these regulations.


Due to pandemic precautions, some driver’s licensing agencies are still operating at a limited capacity or are facing backlogs, resulting in limited ability to issue REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and idenification cards. Starting May 3, 2023, any flyer over 18 will need to have a REAL ID-issued driver’s license or another federally approved identification card to fly domestically. All airline passengers will have to present a valid U.S. passport, military ID, federally approved identification, or a REAL ID card to board any federally regulated commercial aircraft


This requirement was originally introduced in 2005, and through driver’s license renewals, citizens were given the opportunity to provide additional documentation (birth certificate, social security card, marriage licenses, etc.) to prove their identity and obtain a star shape printed on their licenses or IDs, verifying their compliance with the REAL ID requirements. (Some states issue Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) and these will be accepted as REAL ID, whether or not they have the star.) Drivers whose names have changed from their birth certificates will also have to provide documentation that details that change, such as a marriage license or court filings. 


Even though the deadline for compliance has already been extended a few times, to date, only 43% of the U.S.-issued driver’s licenses are REAL ID-compliant, according to DHS data. 


As an alternative, travelers could go to their local post office to begin the process of obtaining a passport. The identification requirements are the same as for the REAL ID, and the process is relatively easy. It takes longer to receive (this agency is also facing backlogs) but will meet the requirements for domestic travel, while also giving travelers the benefits of international travel ability and identification.


Urge your clients to take advantage of this extra time, and make sure they get the necessary star on their licenses, or verify that they possess a US passport. Without one, they will not be able to fly after May 3, 2023.


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