Real ID requirements for domestic flights may not take effect until May 2025, after federal regulators on Monday announced their plans for another two-year extension.
After more than a decade of repeated delays and pauses, Real ID requirements had been set to take effect on May 3, 2023. But with many Americans still without a compliant ID in their wallets and that deadline looming, the Department of Homeland Security announced a two-year extension to give states “additional time to ensure their residents have driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the security standards.”
The agency is proposing an extension through federal rulemaking that would push the enforcement date for domestic flights all the way to May 7, 2025. That means travelers won't need to get a new, compliant license in order to fly domestically for almost 2 1/2 years.
“This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card. DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement. “We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.”
This new ID law was passed way back 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.
This is just the latest in a long, almost comical line of extensions dating that goes back nearly two decades. Federal officials and travel organizations have repeatedly pushed Americans to get a compliant license for years only to see the deadlines pushed back yet again.
After several extensions due to states' unwillingness to comply with the law, the Real ID law had been set to take effect in October 2020. But then the pandemic hit, forcing the federal government to hold off a year until October 2021. With DMV offices around the country shuttered or short-staffed for months, it was eventually delayed again to May 2023.
And now it's been pushed yet again … by another two-plus years. In a statement, the TSA once again faulted the pandemic for this latest extension, saying it was necessary to “address the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card.”
Another delay will buy states precious time … and avoid a nightmare of frustrated flyers getting turned away for not having the correct ID next spring. For example, just 30% of Minnesotan licensees currently have a Real ID compliant card, according to Brian Bakst from Minnesota Public Radio News.
When it takes effect, every traveler 18 and up will need a federally compliant Real ID (or one of several alternatives like your passport or a Global Entry card) at U.S. airport security checkpoints come May 7, 2025. That's a full 20 years after the law was first passed.
And that's only if it isn't delayed yet again.
This is a breaking news story, check back for updates.