The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a 24-month extension of the deadline for full enforcement of the REAL ID. The deadline had been May 3 of 2023, less than five months away. Now full enforcement of the REAL ID will begin May 7, 2025.
DHS cites the lingering impact of COVID-19 as the reason for the further extension, saying that citizens and state driver licensing agencies may need more time to apply for and process the enhanced security driver’s license. REAL IDs already obtained remain valid. Earlier, the REAL ID deadline was Oct. 1. 2021.
As a reminder, once full enforcement begins, the REAL ID will become the only driver’s license accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for boarding domestic airline flights. Similarly, a REAL ID will replace the standard driver’s license as acceptable identification when entering federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and military installations on business. While a REAL ID is not necessary to simply drive on the highway, possessing a REAL ID opens more business opportunities for commercial drivers.
The various federal agencies may establish other forms of acceptable identification for their purposes. For example, TSA developed a list of other documentation it will recognize for boarding domestic airlines. At the same time, the Maritime Administration looks to Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) for access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels.