If you’re worried about needing to swap your current driver’s license for a REAL ID, then good news. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would be holding off on enforcing the new ID cards until May 3rd, 2023.
This marks the second time that the agency’s postponed enforcing the new identifier, which has its roots in a 2005 Act proposed by the 9/11 Commission that was meant to soup up our nation’s security standards.
Originally, DHS was supposed to begin enforcing the new identifier starting in October 2020, but that deadline was pushed back until October of this year due to the surging pandemic. This new delay can also be chalked up to the ongoing pandemic, as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained on Tuesday.
“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “Extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”
Right now, DHS states that only about 43% of any licenses or identification cards issued across the country are REAL ID compliant. That might not be an issue now, but when the 2023 deadline hits, anyone that wants to hop on a domestic flight or step into certain federal facilities—like military bases—is going to be asked for one of these cards. If a passenger’s still not able to get one over the next two years, then they can still be allowed inside by showing two forms of identification that aren’t REAL ID-certified, like their passport and driver’s license.