Individuals will have an additional 24 months – until May 7, 2025 – to obtain U.S. state driver’s licenses or identification cards that comply with the REAL ID Act security standards. The Department of Homeland Security has extended the full enforcement deadline from May 3, 2023 to May 7, 2025, due to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on states’ ability to issue REAL-ID compliant documents. Airlines and federal agencies will continue to accept non-REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards for domestic air travel and admission to federal facilities until May 7, 2025.
The Department of Homeland Security is giving individuals an additional 24 months to obtain state driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards that comply with the requirements of the REAL ID Act, due to continued disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline for REAL ID Act compliance has now been postponed to May 7, 2025, from May 3, 2023. The agency is expected to publish an interim final rule to formally implement the postponement in the coming days. Originally, REAL ID required states to be in compliance by 2008, but that deadline has been extended numerous times.
Beginning May 7, 2025, individuals will need a REAL ID-compliant identification to board domestic flights and to enter federal facilities.
A closer look
The REAL ID Act requires U.S. states to issue state driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards that meet enhanced security standards, and requires individuals to present REAL ID-compliant identification documents for domestic air travel and admission to federal facilities. All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the REAL ID Act have begun issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the ability of residents of these jurisdictions to obtain REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards by the May 2023 deadline.
Beginning May 7, 2025, air travelers in the United States will be required to show identification that complies with the document security requirements of the REAL ID Act. On that date, a traveler must present:
- A state-issued driver’s license or identification card that meets REAL ID requirements; OR
- An acceptable alternative form of identification. The following documents, among others, are approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA):
For additional acceptable documents, see the TSA’s full list.
What this means for travelers
The DHS announcement means that individuals who have not yet obtained a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card have additional time to do so. Until May 7, 2025, travelers can continue to present valid U.S. state driver’s licenses and identification cards for domestic air travel even if they do not meet REAL ID standards.