Travel Alert: REAL ID Deadline Extended to 2025

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Procrastinating travelers, take heart: If you haven’t updated your driver’s license to become REAL ID-compliant, you now have more time to do so.

When Do You Need a REAL ID To Fly?

The new REAL ID compliance deadline has been extended by two years to May 7, 2025, according to a news release from the Department of Homeland Security.

“This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas says in the news release. “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.”

What Is Real ID?

Inspired by recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the REAL ID Act was signed into law in 2005 to set minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and photo IDs. 

But enforcement of the new regulations has been gradual, and part of the final phase includes how people access commercial flights.

According to DHS, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed REAL ID compliance as state driver’s licensing agencies have had to slog through numerous backlogs. 

“Many of these agencies took various steps in response to the pandemic including automatically extending the expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards and shifting operations to appointment only,” says the DHS news release.

Is My License REAL ID-Compliant? Here’s How To Tell

A compliant REAL ID generally has a star in the top right corner (see picture below). Many new IDs have a gold or black star, or some other variation. See the examples below of what the star looks like and what types are acceptable, according to the DHS website:

Compliant Real ID license
Photo credit: Department of Homeland Security

Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards.

Final Thoughts

The postponed deadline announced means people have more time to fall in line with new identification rules set by the government. If you don’t have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, visit your local DMV’s website or go to a physical location near you.

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