REAL ID Compliance Deadline Postponed Due to COVID-19

By Jose Aquino

On March 23, 2020, President Trump announced that he would extend the October 1, 2020 deadline for compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. Under the REAL ID Act, federal agencies cannot accept state driver’s licenses or identification cards for “official purposes.” Implementation of the REAL ID Act would prohibit the use of a state ID to enter federal buildings or pass through TSA security checkpoints to board domestic flights, unless the propounded ID meets certain minimum requirements. The stated goal for extending the compliance date is to avoid potential disruption of air travel.

On March 26, 2020, the acting Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf announced the extension of the compliance deadline by one year, until October 1, 2021. The directive to DHS to delay the Real ID rollout until at least Sept. 30, 2021, was part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress.  A Real ID is obtainable only in-person at a state DMV office. DHS had to avoid applicants rushing to obtain compliant identification at a time of social distancing and government closure due to the nationwide outbreak of COVID-19.

Congress first enacted the Real ID Act in 2005 in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The goal was to have secure and consistent identification documents across the nation. The original deadline, however, had to be extended for years because non-compliance by most states.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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