REAL ID Deadline Pushed Back to 2021 Due to Coronavirus


If you haven’t updated your driver’s license to become REAL ID-compliant, you have more time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new REAL ID deadline has been extended by one year to October 1, 2021, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

REAL ID Deadline: Postponed Due to COVID-19

The announcement comes shortly after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said in a press release that two-thirds of all licenses are currently not compliant with REAL ID.

Only 34% — or just over 95 million out of 276 million — of eligible REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards have been issued as of the end of January, according to DHS.

To streamline the process, the agency loosened the qualifying rules for states to ensure that people meet the enhanced security standards.

Before visiting a local DMV office, states can now accept “pre-submission of identity and lawful status source documents, through a secure electronic process,” the agency says.

That means to speed things up, you can upload the required authentication documents online before you present them to the DMV for verification purposes. Visit your state’s website to see the exact documents you need.

Does Your License Have a Star? Here’s What a REAL ID Looks Like

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. Here are some examples of what the star looks like and what types are acceptable, according to the DHS website:

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.


What Does REAL ID-Compliant Mean?

In October 2021, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license (or state-issued Enhanced Driver’s License) to pass through TSA airport security checkpoints and other federal facilities.

Inspired by recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the REAL ID Act was signed into law in 2005. The law prompted a mass crackdown on fake IDs and mandated that all states and territories enact stricter standards before issuing IDs.

New technology was rolled out that made it harder for criminals to trick the system and mimic ID cards. The new rules also meant that Americans needed more proof of identity — such as original birth certificates — when applying for the 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 when it safe to do so.

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