Your REAL Procrastination Just Paid Off.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they are once again pushing back the deadline for travelers to obtain US state driver’s licenses or ID cards that meet the REAL ID Act’s security standards. DHS explains that this extension is “due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability of states to issue REAL-ID documents.” Individuals now have a deadline of May 7, 2025 – an additional 24 months after the previous May 3, 2023 deadline . Here’s what else you need to know about what this extended REAL ID deadline means for you.

What is a REAL ID?

Back in 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act after the 9/11 Commission recommended that the government standardize the issuance of identification sources for driver’s licenses. According to DHS , “Each air passenger 18 years of age or older will require a driver’s license or ID that matches a REAL ID, a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or other TSA-acceptable ID at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel. “.

This week’s DHS announcement means you have until May 7, 2025 to secure your REAL ID. Requirements for getting a REAL ID vary from state to state, so check out this interactive map on the Department of Homeland Security website . Generally speaking, each state will require documents to prove your full legal name, date of birth, social security number, two proofs of address, and your legal status.

There is no additional charge to obtain a REAL ID, but you will need to take a new photo. The only physical difference between a standard ID and a REAL ID is that the latter has a small gold star in the top right corner.

What does this mean for travelers?

For now, your driver’s license and ID cards that do not match REAL ID will continue to be accepted for domestic air travel. After May 7, 2025, you will no longer be able to board a plane using a standard driver’s license. Instead, you will need to show proof of identification that meets the document security requirements of the REAL ID Law. This means a government-issued driver’s license or REAL ID compliant ID card.

If you do not have a driver’s license or government-issued ID, alternative forms of identification will still be acceptable:

  • An unexpired US or foreign passport.
  • DHS Trusted Traveler Card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST)
  • Permanent Resident Card (Green)
  • USCIS Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) assigned by DHS.

See the full TSA list for additional acceptable documents.

Finally, it is worth noting that this period has been repeatedly extended. REAL ID originally required states to comply by 2008. It’s almost as if… a security measure that can be permanently pushed back by almost 20 years… not really necessary in the first place.


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