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REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions for States

Compliance Procedure

Where can a state find information of the REAL ID Act and regulations?

Links to the REAL ID statute and regulations, along with supporting documents, may be found on the DHS website (

For a list of requirements used in making determinations, please contact the DHS Office of State Issued Identity Support at OSIIS@HQ.DHS.Gov.

Will DHS consider submissions from states after enforcement begins?

Yes. Jurisdictions may submit their certification packages at any time, either before or after REAL ID phased enforcement begins.

How does DHS factor the existence of a law or policy restricting compliance with the REAL ID Act?

DHS does not factor state law or policy about compliance with the Act into its determinations.

Where should states send certification packages?

DHS recommends that jurisdictions submit both a hard copy and an electronic copy.

Mail: 245 Murray Lane, SW; Mail Stop 0460; NAC 17-02-208-03; Washington, DC 20528


Besides the certification letters, the exception process, and security plan, is there any additional documentation required by DHS?

While the REAL ID regulation only requires jurisdictions to submit the listed materials, jurisdictions may submit any additional information or documentation that may help DHS in its determination of compliance.

Can jurisdictions meeting the standards of REAL ID continue issuing non-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards?

Yes. REAL ID allows jurisdictions to issue identification cards and driver’s licenses that are not in compliance with the requirements of the Act. Those licenses and identification cards, however, must clearly state on their face and in the machine readable zone that the card is not acceptable for official purposes.

If my state issues an Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, is that sufficient for my state to be REAL ID compliant?

State Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) designated as acceptable border-crossing documents by DHS under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) are acceptable for official Federal purposes (i.e., boarding a commercial aircraft, accessing a Federal facility, or entering a nuclear power plant).

However the existence of an EDL is not sufficient to consider the state to be in overall compliance for purpose of determining whether a Federal agency may accept a state’s regular driver’s license for official purposes. For example, a Federal agency could accept an EDL issued from a state but not be able to accept a standard driver’s license from that same state.


What is an extension?

The REAL ID Act authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant extensions in cases where the state provides adequate justification for noncompliance. For the duration of that extension, Federal agencies may accept for official purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by that jurisdiction.

How is this announcement different from the December 2012 announcement?

The current extension is granted only to those jurisdictions that provide adequate justification for temporary noncompliance. In contrast, the December 2012 extension was granted to all jurisdictions that had not yet met the requirements for REAL ID and continued until the phased enforcement announcement.

If my jurisdiction received a deferment in December 2012, will it automatically receive an extension?

No. It is not anticipated that all jurisdictions will receive an extension.

How will DHS determine whether to grant an extension to a jurisdiction?

In determining adequate justification for noncompliance, DHS will consider among other things:

i. Progress made by jurisdiction in implementing the minimum standards of the Act;

ii. Justification for noncompliance and plans for implementing any unmet requirements; and

iii. Existence of external factors (e.g., resources, contract cycles, operations issues) that would delay full implementation.

How long will an extension last?

The current round of extensions will end on October 10, 2015, regardless of the date of issuance. The use of non-staggered expiration dates is necessitated to facilitate operational requirements for enforcement.

Will an extension be renewable?

Extensions are renewable at the discretion of the Secretary provided there is adequate justification for continued noncompliance. Renewal is not automatic and state should provide DHS with information about their progress in implementing any outstanding standards.

How does a jurisdiction apply for an extension?

Where a jurisdiction has already provided DHS with sufficient information to grant an extension, jurisdictions need take no additional steps to receive an extension.

All other jurisdictions seeking an extension should provide DHS with justification for continued noncompliance. To assist DHS in making an extension determination, states may want to note the progress made in meeting the requirements and the state’s plan for addressing any unmet requirements.

Last Published Date: December 29, 2014
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