REAL ID Deadline Delayed 12 Months Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Author: Curt Wagner       


This social media graphic is among the tools offered by the U.S. Travel Association to remind people to get their REAL ID-compliant license. The COVID-19 crisis has delayed the deadline for one year to Oct. 1, 2021.

The millions of American travelers who haven’t yet obtained their new REAL IDs are getting another year to do so. The Department of Homeland Security is delaying the Real ID enforcement deadline another 12 months to Oct. 1, 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reports.

With the COVID-19 crisis closing motor-vehicle department offices around the country, citizens will not be able to go through the process of replacing their current IDs, acting secretary Chad Wolf said in a DHS statement.

Had the original Oct. 1, 2020, deadline remained, travelers without a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other ID would not be allowed to board flights in the U.S. They could, however, use other approved forms of ID: A passport or a passport card meets the requirement, as do Global Entry cards for U.S. travelers returning from overseas.

In February, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 100 million Americans have driver’s licenses that meet the new standards. But at that time, USA Today reported, Wolf said two-thirds of Americans still did not have a compliant ID.

Here’s what you need to know to help educate your attendees flying within the U.S. beginning Oct. 1, 2020:

  • Generally, the government says, REAL ID-compliant licenses will have a star on the top part of the card. Travelers who are not sure if their ID is compliant should check with their state driver’s license agency to find out if it is, and how they can get a new one.
  • The other acceptable forms of ID are a valid passport, a federal government PIV card, or a U.S. military ID. Make sure that your passport is updated by the new deadline as well. According to the State Department, the current processing time for routine service ranges from six to eight weeks. The slow season for renewals runs between September and December. You can find all the information for a first-time passport application or renewal at the Department of State website.

Remember, without one of the accepted forms of identification or a REAL ID-compliant license, individuals will not be permitted to enter TSA checkpoints and will not be allowed to fly. The TSA’s REAL ID page explains everything in detail, along with an FAQ page.

Find our previous REAL ID coverage.

Curt Wagner is an associate editor at Convene. This story was updated on April 1, 2020.

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