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You have an extra year to get your REAL ID-compliant driver’s license

Updated 03/26/2020 – Due to the coronavirus, REAL ID enforcement is being delayed by one year. Here is a statement from DHS:

“Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security, as directed by President Donald J. Trump, is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline beyond the current Oct. 1, 2020 deadline. I have determined that states require a 12-month delay and that the new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is Oct. 1, 2021. DHS will publish a notice of the new deadline in the Federal Register in the coming days.”


Do you remember exactly what you were doing when you first heard about the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001? It’s one of those catastrophic “where were you when” moments that will be stuck in your mind for the rest of time.

Since that terrible day, the U.S. government has been beefing up airport security and finding new ways to keep everyone safe. If you’ve traveled by plane over the past decade, you know how long those security lines can be. Tap or click for pro tips on how to get through security faster.

Well, there’s another new security feature being implemented. And if you don’t act fast, you won’t be able to step onto an airplane.

The clock is ticking — for real

Have you ever heard of a REAL ID? You should have, it’s been in the works for years.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, implementing recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. The purpose is to set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as drivers licenses.

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In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security announced a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act.

Now, here’s where you’ll want to pay close attention. If you don’t have a REAL ID by Oct. 1, 2021, you won’t be able to board a plane.

Not only that, but you could be impacted in other areas. You will need a REAL ID to access federal buildings, enter nuclear power plants and board airplanes.

What if you don’t have a REAL ID?

Here is where things get really serious. It’s estimated that more than 180 million Americans do not have a REAL ID yet. This means only about 30% of Americans actually have a REAL ID.

Even worse, some don’t even know the deadline is fast approaching. Can you imagine the chaos we might see in October? Tons of people could be turned away from airport security trying to catch a flight — and right before the big holiday rush.

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Speaking of chaos, think about how jam-packed your local DMV will be the closer we get to the deadline. Once people realize they need a REAL ID, they’ll be scrambling to get one.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start the process now if you haven’t already. To find out how to get one in your state, visit the Homeland Security REAL ID page.

Note: When you go to the DMV to get a REAL ID, you’ll need a valid form of identification: a passport or birth certificate, proof of your Social Security number and date of birth, and two items proving your home address/state residency. Typically, utility bills or other snail mail items will work for proving your address.

Do you know if you have a REAL ID? A compliant REAL ID has a star symbol at the top of the card. If you don’t see the star, you don’t have a REAL ID.

There is some good news, though. You can still get through airport security and fly if you have a passport, military ID or Global Entry card. But eventually, you’ll want to get a REAL ID — even if you have a passport. Better to do it now than wait until it’s too late.

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