Enforcement of New REAL ID Law Postponed

A new US law requiring use of a REAL ID is being postponed until May, 2023, according to the US Department for Homeland Security.

Citing issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DHS has confirmed a delay of 19 months in implementing enforcement rules relating to the REAL ID law from October 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023.

Under the REAL ID law, every air traveler 18 years or above must show genuine REAL ID-compliant identification documents at airport security checkpoints for domestic travel. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses have a star at the top of license.

Travelers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an individual who has compliant documentation.

DHS stated the postponement is designed to allow “states time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”

While all 50 states (and most US territories) are prepared to issue REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards, many have had to extend driver’s license renewal deadlines and switch to appointment-only scheduling because of COVID-19 restrictions.

DHS also stated only 43 percent of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are REAL ID-compliant, the low percentage attributable to COVID-related challenges.

What is the REAL ID law?

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission in 2005 as a way to improve security.

Other forms of compliant documents for boarding domestic flights include:

  • U.S. passport or U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • U.S. permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration is actively monitoring the impact of the pandemic on US immigration policy and application processing.

As the situation continues to develop, please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.