REAL ID Deadline Delayed Until 2021 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 original Oct. 1 deadline.

The millions of American travelers who haven’t yet obtained their new REAL IDs are getting another year to do so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CNN reports that the original Oct. 1 deadline will be extended to at least September 2021, according to a draft version of the economic stimulus bill the government is working on.

The move will prevent crowding at state motor-vehicle department offices, USA Today reported earlier, which aligns with social-distancing measures put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Had the Oct. 1 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, then acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf said two-thirds of Americans still did not have a compliant ID.

Once the pandemic crisis is over and business travel returns, here’s what you need to know to help educate attendees flying within the U.S.:

  • 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 S. 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.

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