The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that the RealID the deadline would be extended for another two years, delaying implementation until May 7, 2025. The law was previously set to come into effect on May 3.
“The extension is necessary, in part, to address the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card. REAL ID progress over the past two years has been significantly hindered by state driver’s licensing agencies having to work through the backlogs created by the pandemic,” a statement from the DHS said. “Many of these agencies took various steps in response to the pandemic including automatically extending the expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards and shifting operations to appointment only.”
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The Real ID law was passed by Congress in 2005 and is meant to establish minimum security standards for state-issued forms of identification like driver’s licenses. Once the law takes effect, travelers will need to present a compliant ID in order to board an airplane.
What is RealID?
Real ID is a set of federal standards for state-issued identification documents.
“Security standards include incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud, and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who they claim to be,” DHS said in a statement. “Under the new regulations, beginning May 7, 2025, every traveler 18 years of age or older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.”
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How do I know if I have a Real ID?
Real ID-compliant documents are typically marked with a gold or black star, or gold or black circle with a star outline in the center of the upper portion of the card. California uses a gold bear with a star cutout.
According to DHS, as of March 26, 2021, 55 states and territories were issuing Real ID-compliant documents for new and renewing applicants.
Can I travel without a Real ID?
For now, yes. Until the Real ID enforcement begins on May 7, 2025, older, non-compliant documents will still be accepted at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. After the deadline, you’ll need a Real ID document to travel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to get a new driver’s license. Passports and other IDs issued by the federal government will be accepted.