The REAL ID Act requires U.S. states to issue state driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards that meet enhanced security standards and requires individuals to present REAL ID-compliant identification documents for domestic air travel and admission to federal facilities. All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the REAL ID Act have begun issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. The REAL ID act required all states to comply by 2008, but this deadline has been extended numerous times. More recently, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the ability of residents of these jurisdictions to obtain REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards by the May 2023 deadline.
On December 5, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would again extend the deadline to May 7, 2025. Beginning May 7, 2025, air travelers in the United States will be required to show identification that complies with the document security requirements of the REAL ID Act. On that date, a traveler must present:
A state-issued driver’s license or identification card that meets REAL ID requirements
An acceptable alternative form of identification. The following documents, among others, are approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA):
An unexpired U.S. or foreign passport;
A DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST);
A permanent resident (green) card;
A USCIS employment authorization document (EAD); or
A DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license (EDL).
For additional acceptable documents, refer to DHS’s REAL ID website (https://www.dhs.gov/real-id).
The DHS announcement means that individuals who have not yet obtained a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card have additional time to do so. Until May 7, 2025, travelers can continue to present valid U.S. state driver’s licenses and identification cards for domestic air travel even if they do not meet REAL ID standards. Moreover, if you have a valid foreign passport, even after May 7, 2025, you will continue to be able to travel using that document.
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