Turns out you won’t need a new Real ID to board a flight this fall, after all. In fact, you’ve got more than a year and a half to get one of these federally approved IDs.
After more than a decade of delays, those new Real ID requirements were set to take effect Oct. 1, 2021. But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended that deadline yet again: Now, you’ll have until May 3, 2023 to get a Real ID to fly. That’s another 19-month extension.
“Extending the Real ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. NBC News first reported the extension.
This new ID law was passed in 2005 in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks to combat terrorism and identity fraud. Real IDs come with some additional hoops to jump through when applying for or renewing a driver’s license – they’re marked with a gold star showing they’re federally approved.
But while Real ID requirements for air travel have been looming for years, they’ve been constantly pushed back as many states resisted falling in line. Now, they’re available in every U.S. state. Just last year, that deadline was pushed back from a year October 2020 to 2021.
This time, federal officials said another delay was necessary because the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for many citizens to get a compliant ID from their DMV.
Who Will Need a Real ID to Fly?
In a word? Everyone … eventually.
The Department of Homeland Security makes it clear: Once these new requirements take effect, you won’t be able to get into the airport without one. Read up on more frequently asked questions about Real ID on the DHS site.
The only exception is the same one that exists for IDs today: Children under 18 who are traveling with an adult companion will not need to present a Real ID at the airport.
But for now, the pressure is off. You won’t need a Real ID to fly this fall. In fact, you won’t need it until May of 2023.
How to Get a Real ID to Fly
Today, you can get a Real ID-compliant license from your local DMV in every state.
The cost of getting a Real ID will vary state by state. Some states have reduced the costs to renew an older license if it expires after the full Real ID requirements take effect. These new IDs are almost identical to the standard driver’s license you’re using today – they’ve simply got a golden star, denoting that they’re approved for federal use.
And while you simply go to your local DMV as usual, applying for a new, compliant license is a bit different. Namely, you need to provide some extra documentation.
- One document proving your identity, like a valid passport or certified birth certificate.
- One document with your Social Security number, like your Social Security card or a federal W-2 form.
- Two documents proving your current address, like a valid driver’s license, a canceled check, or utility company or bank statements issued within the last 90 days.
More than 150 million Americans nationwide have already received a Real ID, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
If you live in Minnesota, there’s an even easier option. Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) airport set up a first-of-its-kind application center right inside the airport. Just set up an appointment and knock out your application before or after your next flight.
Of course, you may not need a Real ID after all. You could use a passport to board any flight – then you wouldn’t need a Real ID. You’ll still need that passport for any international journey, after all. And if you’ve got Global Entry, your Global Entry card will work as well.
Read more on the alternatives you can keep using instead of getting a Real ID.
Real ID is coming … at some point. After this latest delay, you’ve got another 19 months to get one – and that’s if the federal government decides to enforce this new requirement at all.