The deadline to obtain a REAL ID, federally mandated identification that will be needed for passengers to board aircraft, will be extended until October 1, 2021 – a year past the current deadline, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The Senate stimulus bill also requires the deadline be pushed until at least the end of September 2021.
Before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the US, states were preparing to issue residents “REAL ID-compliant” driver’s licenses or identification by the October 1, 2020 deadline.
As of last month, only about 35% of US IDs complied with the REAL ID Act, a post-9/11 law that establishes security standards for licenses. Once in effect, travelers flying commercially in the US will need to have a REAL ID, which is marked by a star on the top of the card.
Even before the outbreak, it was unlikely that all states would meet the deadline. Last month, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told lawmakers that the prospect of all states being able to issue their constituents a REAL ID by October 2020 was “probably fairly small.”
The Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for the identification program, is delaying the deadline to allow state and local authorities to focus on the coronavirus response.
States across the country have temporarily closed or restricted access to DMVs, keeping millions of people from applying for their new IDs, according to DHS.
“Extending the deadline will also allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes,” Wolf said in a statement Thursday.
President Donald Trump said Monday the fall deadline for states to comply with REAL ID requirements would be extended.
This story has been updated to reflect the Department of Homeland Security announcement.
Priscilla Alvarez and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this story.