2005 Authentic Identity ActIt mandates that US travelers hold more than a standard driver’s license to board a domestic flight, It has been announced that it will come into effect from May 3, 2023. But on Monday, after nearly 15 years of delay, the Department of Homeland Security pushed back the deadline for implementation by an additional 24 months. Passengers have till May 7, 2025 to renew their documents.
The Real Identity Act was passed on Sept. 11 Act requires U.S. passengers flying into the U.S. to show another TSA-approved form of identification, such as a security-enhanced driver’s license or passport, to Transportation Security Administration agents. When the law goes into effect, state driver’s licenses without an authentic identification stamp will no longer be accepted at airport security checkpoints across the country.
Congress passed the REAL IDENTIFICATION Act on September 11, 2001, after discovering that all hijackers who boarded commercial airliners were carrying US driver’s licenses and state identification cards, and that most of those documents had been obtained fraudulently. The law, which sets minimum standards for driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, was initially scheduled to take effect in 2008. It has been extended several times, including twice during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most recent release is marked by confusion. Although real IDs show that the applicant has been tested and approved by federal standards, the cards are issued by individual states, US territories (except American Samoa, which is under review) and the District of Columbia. Application processes vary from state to state, and the physical appearance of the card also varies: real ID cards are marked with an asterisk, but its placement is random.
In some states, including New York, Michigan and Minnesota, residents have an alternative way to apply for an enhanced driver’s license, which is Real ID-compliant, but marked with a flag rather than a star. Unlike real IDs, EDLs can be used in lieu of a passport to travel to and from the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries.
In Washington State, residents can only apply for an EDL and a standard real ID license is not available.
At this point, the May 3, 2023 deadline appeared to be sticking, and state motor vehicle departments ran marketing campaigns to encourage residents to turn in their paperwork on time. Many states require a fee to switch to real IDs.
But this month, TSA’s New England spokesman Dan Welles said federal officials determined not enough citizens were ready for the change, and decided to extend the deadline by two more years.
“Actual IT progress over the past two years has been significantly hampered by state driver’s licensing agencies,” said Mr. Velez said. “This extension is necessary to give states the time they need to ensure their residents receive a valid ID-compliant license or identification card.”
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