The enforcement deadline for REAL ID has been pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Thursday.
DHS said there will be a 12-month delay, extending the deadline for states to comply until Oct. 1, 2021, as states across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs.
Extending the deadline will also allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes, Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses will be required to fly domestically, after legislation passed by Congress in 2005 aimed to unify security standards for the IDs across states.
“The already difficult task of bringing the country closer to REAL ID compliance is now clearly impossible due to the coronavirus crisis,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow.
“Over the next 18 months people will be focused on building their lives back, not going to the DMV. The economic damage of coronavirus is already massive, and as we move toward a recovery phase it would be awful if the REAL ID deadline hits and creates yet another obstacle to people traveling.”
A new analysis compiled by U.S. Travel and Longwoods International, a market research consultancy, shows that if REAL ID were implemented today, an estimated 67,400 travelers would be turned away at airport security checkpoints on the first day, and more than 471,800 within the first week.