The timeline for Americans to have a REAL ID in order to travel has changed yet again.
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) again pushed back the deadline for implementation of Real ID 24 months into 2025. The news means that Americans who want to travel on a domestic flight without a passport will not need to have a REAL ID until May 7, 2025, at the earliest.
The DHS said the move gives states more time to execute the change and “ensure their residents have driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the security standards established by the REAL ID Act.” It specifically cited the COVID-19 pandemic in extending the timeline.
“DHS continues to work closely with U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories to meet REAL ID requirements,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
“This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card. DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.”
REAL ID implementation has suffered from stops and starts since the Act was passed by Congress in 2005, aimed to unify security standards for IDs across states. In March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the DHS pushed it back indefinitely because of COVID-19, eventually landing on October 1, 2020, and then pushing it back again a full year to October 1, 2021.
Real ID was then pushed back in April 2021 by 19 months because of COVID-19’s impact on enforcement. It had then been scheduled for implementation this May before Monday’s 24-month extension.
The extension is good news for the U.S. Travel Association, which had been pushing for another extension through 2022. In May, U.S. Travel said it wanted the deadline pushed back a year in order to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which U.S. Travel said “Created a significant hurdle” to widespread adoption.
On Monday, shortly after the news broke, U.S. Travel Association's Tori Emerson Barnes said "extending the REAL ID deadline is the right decision, and U.S. Travel appreciates DHS leadership for recognizing that with more than 100 million Americans still lacking a REAL ID, now is not the time to create significant travel disruptions. This delay helps give travelers the time necessary to get the credential needed to fly domestically."
“It remains critical that DHS identify ways to modernize identification standards to make the entire travel process more efficient. We will continue working with our partners in the travel industry and DHS to advance these solutions and get the traveling public fully prepared for the implementation of the REAL ID Act in 2025.”