As a result of extensive state, industry, and government collaboration, Congress has passed the bipartisan REAL ID Modernization Act. The Act modernizes REAL ID requirements originally set more than 15 years ago.
“This new law marks another important step toward meeting the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations to close dangerous vulnerabilities to terrorist travel and fraud,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. “With this authority, the Department can help states better streamline the identity document issuance process before the October 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.”
After DHS issues implementing regulations as necessary, states may:
- Accept the identity and lawful status information from individuals using electronic transmission methods; and
- Reuse existing photographs, under certain conditions, taken by states and used to issue applicants current driver’s license or identification card and stored as part of their official state record.
The Act also helps lay the groundwork for future REAL ID-compliant mobile/digital driver’s licenses to individuals holding a valid REAL ID compliant physical DL/ID. The Act also provides some immediate relief by allowing applicants to provide their social security number without having to bring in a separate document containing the social security number during the application process. Finally, to further publicize upcoming REAL ID requirements, aircraft operators and third-party reservation entities must begin notifying airline travelers of REAL ID enforcement starting 90 days before the enforcement deadline.
To date, all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia have issued more than 114 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, representing 42 percent of all driver’s licenses and identification card holders.
Only 10 months remain until the October 1, 2021 REAL ID full enforcement deadline goes into effect at all federally regulated airports, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants. The Department continues to urge Americans to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card or acceptable alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card prior to the October 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.
To avoid confusion regarding the REAL ID Act requirements and enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.
- Check your state-issued driver’s license or identification card for the star. REAL ID-compliant cards have a star marking in the upper left- or right-hand corner. Most acceptable alternatives, such as state-issued Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs), which are available in five states and can be used for entering the U.S. at land and sea border crossings, do not have the star, but are acceptable for official REAL ID purposes. For more information on EDLs, please go to www.dhs.gov/enhanced-drivers-licenses-what-are-they.
- Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. Check to see if you have the proper identification to fly at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. TSA’s website has a list of acceptable forms of identification that individuals may use to verify their identity at the screening checkpoint. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow enough processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are approximately 10 weeks for routine service and two to three weeks for expedited service.
- Check with the federal agency you plan to visit, in advance, to find out whether identification is required, and if so, what types of identity documents are acceptable. While most Federal agencies will continue to accept legacy and non-compliant marked driver’s licenses and identification cards until the enforcement deadline of October 1, 2021, some – like Department of Defense facilities and posts – may no longer accept them.
- Read answers to REAL ID frequently asked questions at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
DHS continues working closely with all states and territories to implement REAL ID Act requirements.