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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended its full enforcement of Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses from Oct. 1, 2021 to 2023 due to the pandemic, DHS officials announced Tuesday.
The Real ID will be required for everyone age 18 and older who is passing through an airport security checkpoint prior to a domestic flight, according to the DHS.
DHS officials said all U.S. travelers will be required to have a Real ID by May 3, 2023, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for states to issue driver’s licenses that are Real ID-compliant as many licensing agencies are still not operating at full capacity.
“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “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.”
The Real ID is intended to streamline the requirements for driver’s licenses as identification, which are issued via state governments.
All 50 states, Washington, D.C., and four of the five U.S. territories are now issuing Real ID-compliant licenses, with American Samoa the only exception.
However, due to delays caused in part by the pandemic, just 43 percent of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently Real ID-compliant.
The Department of Homeland Security has more information on the Real ID and its requirements online.