The Department of Homeland Security announced in March 2020 that the deadline to obtain a REAL ID had been extended to Oct. 1, 2021. The extension was given due to the closing of many Department of Motor Vehicle offices across the country as states shut down in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19. Though the deadline has been extended, experts recommend those who need a REAL ID be prepared and obtain one as soon as possible to avoid long lines.


REAL ID Information

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act in response to the federal government’s request that there be a national standard for issuing identification documents, such as driver’s licenses and identification cards. The Act establishes a set of standards that must be met before issuing a REAL ID card.

The Act prohibits Federal agencies from accepting forms of identification by non-compliant states that don’t meet the minimum standards for issuing REAL ID documents and cards. After the deadline, those without a REAL ID may be prohibited from entering nuclear power plants, Federal agencies and boarding all aircraft regulated by the federal government.


Benefits of the Extended Deadline

The United States Travel Association has been advocating for an extension of the REAL ID deadline long before COVID-19 began spreading across the country. The concern is that the process for obtaining a REAL ID can take time. Studies estimate that up to 67,000 people could be prevented from flying on the first day of REAL ID implementation. This number is believed to rise to up to one-half million people during the first week of implementation.

Experts believe that by extending the deadline that states may be able to implement changes to speed the REAL ID issuance process. This may allow more states to become compliant and increase the number of people who have REAL ID cards or documents.


Necessary Documents to Obtain a REAL ID

To date, more than 105 million REAL ID cards have been issued to people across the United States. Those who wish to obtain a card must bring one document that proves their identity, proof of all name changes for those who have changed their name, proof of a Social Security number, at least two documents that prove that they reside in the state where they are requesting a REAL ID and an application for an ID card or driving privileges.