The government has extended the deadline for when federal agencies like the TSA will start requiring Real ID cards, moving the date from May 3rd, 2023, to May 7th, 2025. This will give people an extra two years to get an updated driver’s license or ID card; after the deadline, they won’t be allowed to fly without them.
The extension is meant to “address the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card,” according to a Monday press release from the Department of Homeland Security. The standard was implemented after 9/11 in an attempt to improve security while flying, so getting one of the cards requires providing several pieces of documentation. That includes proof of your legal name, birth date, social security number, home address, and immigration status.
This is far from the first Real ID delay. When the act mandating them was passed in 2005, it specified that federal agencies would have to stop accepting non-compliant IDs in three years, putting the cutoff date in early 2008. In hindsight, that was a slightly optimistic timeline, given that the change required working with dozens of state and territorial governments to overhaul the way their DMVs issued IDs and driver’s licenses, especially since some state officials were staunchly against the change. That’s not to mention the difficulty of getting everyone over the age of 18 to upgrade their existing IDs.
Many of the previous delays came down to states simply not being ready — some didn’t start issuing Real IDs until 2020. Now, all but one American territory is in compliance with the law, which has mostly moved the responsibility from the governments onto citizens.