Americans will have two more years to obtain a Real ID driver’s license or identification card, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.
U.S. air travelers will be required to present the Real ID credential to board a domestic flight beginning May 7, 2025. Before Monday’s announcement, implementation had been scheduled to take effect May next year.
Postponing the enforcement of the last phase of the Real ID Act will give motor vehicle departments across the country more time to process the new credentials. Some states have reported that progress on the Real ID program was hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Just under half of Americans with a license and state identification card have a Real ID-compliant document, generally identifiable by a star in the upper-right corner, according to the most recent data available.
In announcing the new deadline, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday said the 24-month extension will give states time to ensure residents can obtain the Real ID-compliant license or ID card.
“DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible,” he said. “We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.”
Each state, the District and five U.S. territories have committed to complying with Real ID requirements, federal officials say. DHS has extended the implementation multiple times, most recently postponing an Oct. 1, 2021, deadline to May 3, 2023, to give states more time amid pandemic-related lags at motor vehicle branches.
But as of May this year, compliance rates were still concerning to some travel groups, which had been urging another extension. About 137 million Real IDs have been issued nationwide, which is about 49 percent of state-issued IDs in circulation, according to federal data obtained through the American Travel Association. At the time, the compliance rate had been increasing by about 0.5 percentage points each month, the data shows.
Congress passed the Real ID Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Eighteen of the 19 hijackers had obtained state IDs, some fraudulently. The law, which set minimum security standards for driver’s licenses and ID cards issued by states, originally was to take effect in 2008.