Real ID deadline pushed back yet again, to May 2023, because of pandemic

Sample Washington state driver's license
A sample Washington state driver’s license.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
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Americans will have more time to get the Real ID that will be required for boarding flights and entering federal facilities.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday postponed the Real ID deadline to May 3, 2023, more than 2½ years later than its original deadline of Oct. 1, 2020. Last year, that was pushed to Oct. 1, 2021, because the COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for states to issue new licenses.

The deadline has now been postponed again because of the pandemic.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards following a recommendation from the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


The updated cards will be required for airport check-in and entry to federal facilities.

People are getting compliant IDs as they renew their licenses, but it takes time, and the process has been slowed by the pandemic, with many state agencies operating at limited capacity.

After 40 minutes in line to get my Real ID at the DMV, I got to purgatory. Hell was another half-hour away.

Feb. 12, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security says only 43% of all driver’s licenses and identification cards are compliant.

Older IDs will be suitable to allow people to drive, buy liquor or other age-limited products, and gamble at casinos.

For those without the new cards, military IDs and passports will be accepted as alternatives for boarding flights and entering federal facilities.