Homeland Security Extends Deadline for REAL ID Enforcement by 19 Months

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the deadline for the REAL ID enforcement date by 19 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline for enforcement has been extended from Oct. 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023.

According to a press release, the pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, as many licensing agencies are still operating at limited capacity.

“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said. “As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.”

Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler ages 18 and older will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel.

The REAL ID Act covers all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and four of the five U.S. territories. Many licensing agencies have shifted to appointment-only scheduling protocols during the pandemic, significantly reducing the number of licenses being issued. As a result, only 43% of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant.

The DHS will publish an interim final rule in the coming days to enforce this date change. For more information on how to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card, you can visit the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) website.

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