The October deadline for Travelers to provide REAL ID-compliant identification cards has been pushed back to spring 2023.
It feels like the deadline has been coming for years now: You need to get a REAL ID-compliant identification card if you want to pass through security at U.S.-based airports.
But the deadline for REAL ID compliance has been pushed back again and again. The deadline had been set for Oct. 1, 2021, but the Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the deadline once more. Will this be the final deadline? For real this time?
Here is everything you need to know about the REAL ID law and this new deadline for compliance.
What is a REAL ID?
In the wake of terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States Congress passed a series of laws and regulations designed to make the country safer. These new laws and regulations included many changes to the air travel experience.
In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which established “minimum security standards for license issuance and production.” The same law prevented specific federal agencies (like the Transportation Security Administration) from accepting identification cards that don’t meet security standards. In short, the REAL ID Act was designed to ensure that all states driver’s licenses and identification cards would be secure enough to prevent fraud and other ID-related criminal activity.
The Real ID act emerged directly from recommendations by the 9/11 Commission. All states have already created identification cards that meet the law’s minimum standards, but some Travelers in those states still hold older identification cards that don’t meet minimum standards.
When Do You Need One?
The deadline for securing a REAL ID-compliant identification has been moving backward for decades. Here’s a brief history of the moving deadlines that dates back to 2008. The Department of Homeland Security pushed the deadline to Oct. 1, 2021 — citing COVID-19-related constraints with implementation. In April 2021, the Department pushed the deadline yet again, giving Travelers until May 3, 2023.
The good news is that all states now offer REAL ID-compliant identification cards. In the past, states were facing deadlines to create and offer REAL ID compliant IDs, and Travelers were facing deadlines to secure them. Now, we’re only dealing with the deadline for passengers.
As things stand right now, you must have a REAL ID-compliant identification card if you want to pass through security at American airports by May 3, 2023.
Are There Alternatives?
The Transportation Security Administration accepts more than just state-issued identification cards. You can also use the following:
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
A state-issued identification card is the type of ID most Travelers are likely to have. But, if you don’t have a REAL ID-compliant identification card by the deadline in May 2023, any of the above IDs will do the job.
How Do You Get a REAL ID?
Each state has its own process for issuing identification cards. The Department of Homeland Security has created a helpful information hub that provides details on how to get a REAL ID-compliant identification card across any of the 50 states (as well as Washington DC and 5 territories). If you’d like detailed information on how to get a REAL ID-compliant identification card from your state, visit the Department’s REAL ID information hub.
You should start the process of a securing a REAL ID-compliant identification card as soon as possible. But some states are taking proactive measures to ensure that lines remain as short as possible during this transition. For example, Colorado partnered with the TSA to educate Coloradans about REAL ID. And Texas now takes appointments up to 6 months in advance, which greatly reduces wait times compared to first-come-first-served models.
Be Travel Ready With JTB Business Travel
At JTB Business Travel, we work with Travelers before, during and after their trips to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. That includes helping Travelers secure visas for international travel, finding low rates that meet policy guidelines, creating itineraries that promote productivity, plus more.
In addition to supporting Travelers, we work to ensure companies maximize their travel spend. Behind everything we do is a common-sense approach to business travel.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can enhance your travel experience.