WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for Americans to obtain a Real ID driver’s license or identification card.
The agency pushed back the deadline to May 3, 2023, because the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tougher for states to issue new IDs, The Washington Post reported. The original deadline was Oct. 1, 2021.
Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to create minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards, the newspaper reported. The legislation was a response to a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission.
The updated cards will be necessary for checking in at airports and to enter federal facilities, according to The Associated Press.
According to the DHS, only 43% of all current driver’s licenses and ID cards are compliant.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Tuesday that the pandemic’s effect on states made it necessary to extend the Real ID deadline.
“Protecting the health, safety and security of our communities is our top priority,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”
The 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories are issuing Real IDs, the Post reported. American Samoa has not issued Real IDs yet but is on track to become compliant, the newspaper reported.
Older IDs can still be used to drive, buy alcohol and other adult-regulated products, and gamble at casinos, according to the AP. Travelers can also use military IDs.