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About REAL ID

REAL ID Deadline: May 3, 2023The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing certain federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress, that will implement the Act in a measured, fair, and responsible way.

Secure driver's licenses and identification documents are a vital component of our national security framework. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.

DHS is committed to enforcing the REAL ID Act in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and regulatory timeframes. It has been 16 years since the REAL ID Act was passed and half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards.

The Act does not require individuals to present identification where it is not currently required to access a federal facility (such as to enter the public areas of the Smithsonian) nor does it prohibit an agency from accepting other forms of identity documents (such as a U.S. passport or passport card).

The Act’s prohibitions do not affect other uses of driver’s licenses or identification cards unrelated to official purposes as defined in the Act.

For more information, please contact the REAL ID Program Office at REALID@dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 09/28/2022
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Be REAL ID Ready!

Deadline: May 3, 2023