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The Real ID Deadline Has Been Extended Again—by a Lot

By Michelle Baran

Apr 27, 2021

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The Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the Real ID deadline until 2023.

Photo by Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock

The Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the Real ID deadline until 2023.

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new Real ID deadline, and it’s a very generous extension.

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Originally, air travelers were going to need to have a Real ID by October 1, 2020, in order to board a domestic flight. Last year, the Trump Administration bumped that deadline out a year to October 1, 2021. Now, it’s been bumped out all the way until May 3, 2023.

“As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, 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,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in an April 27 statement announcing the new extension.

All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories are now issuing Real ID–compliant licenses and identification cards. (American Samoa is the only territory not yet issuing them.)

But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue Real IDs, and that many driver’s license–issuing agencies are still operating at limited capacity.

Many state licensing agencies have also extended the deadline for renewing expiring licenses due to a shift to an appointment-only scheduling system during the pandemic, which has significantly limited the pace at which they have been able to issue licenses and identification cards.

Currently, only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are Real ID–compliant, according to the DHS.

Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Real ID

What’s a Real ID again?


A Real ID is a newer form of driver’s license or identification card that meets certain minimum security standards established by the Real ID Act in 2005 (a response to recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission following the attacks on September 11, 2001). The new standards are intended to ensure that identification cards are more secure.

By the new May 3, 2023, deadline, all U.S. travelers 18 and older (kids traveling domestically with an adult don’t need to provide identification) will be required to present a driver’s license to U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents that is considered Real ID–compliant when passing through airport security in order to be able to fly domestically.

If you don’t have a compliant ID by that date, you will have to show another acceptable form of identification to fly within the United States, such as a valid passport, permanent resident card, or DHS trusted traveler program card, such as Global Entry or Nexus.

How to Renew Your U.S. Passport

How do you get a Real ID?

Getting a Real ID typically involves providing your state’s DMV with some additional documentation. For instance, to get a Real ID in California, you need to make an appointment at a California DMV office and supply an identifying document (such as a passport or birth certificate), proof of your Social Security number (such as your Social Security card or a W-2 form), and proof of California residency.

>> Next: Everything You Need to Know About Getting a New U.S. Passport

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