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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
DHS Enforcing Critical Identification Requirements to Protect the Homeland
WASHINGTON - Beginning February 5, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin enforcing compliance with the Real ID Act to better protect the American people. Fifty-five out of fifty-six states and territories are currently compliant or have received an extension until October 10, 2018. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state or territory that is compliant or has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual.
As of today, American Samoa (AS) is the only territory that has not reached compliance or received an extension. This means that starting February 5, 2018, residents will not be able to use AS-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards to fly domestically, access federal facilities (including military bases), or nuclear power plants.
American Samoa formerly had an extension that allowed federal agencies to continue to accept its driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, that extension expired on October 10, 2017, triggering a three month grace period before enforcement would begin on February 5, 2018. American Samoa has subsequently not been able to demonstrate a clear and achievable plan for compliance as needed to receive a new extension.
DHS has worked extensively with every state and territory to provide time, technical assistance, and grants to support compliance with the REAL ID security requirements. The Department continues to urge territorial officials to take action, allowing residents of American Samoa to obtain driver’s licenses or identification cards that meet these enhanced security standards.
Background on REAL ID
Based on a recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulently-obtained driver’s licenses and identification cards. The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, and is designed to ensure that people boarding a flight or entering a federal building are who they say they are.
REAL ID established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. This includes incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud, and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who he or she claims to be. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and identification cards for access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and commercial aircraft. The goal of REAL ID is to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards used for Federal official purposes.
Because of the potential for confusion about the REAL ID enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.
- Be aware of your state’s status. You can check if your state is REAL ID compliant or has an extension at www.dhs.gov/real-id.
- Read answers to frequently asked questions at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
- Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. TSA provides a list of acceptable documents at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow sufficient processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.
DHS is working closely with all states and territories to implement their REAL ID requirements and stands ready to provide additional assistance as needed. The women and men of DHS will continue to work tirelessly to put protections in place to keep our country and our people safe.
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