The REAL ID Deadline Has Been Delayed Once Again, and This Time to 2025

This is the third time the deadline has been extended

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The deadline to get your Real ID is now more than two years away. Starting May 7, 2025, all travelers 18 and up must show their REAL ID-compliant driver's license or identification card at TSA airport security checkpoints to board their plane.

REAL ID, a byproduct of the 2005 REAL ID Act, is a form of identification that meets minimum security standards in a post-9/11 world. While the average U.S. citizen only needs it to board a federally regulated commercial aircraft, it can also be used to enter certain federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

Although the original deadline to get a REAL ID was set for Oct. 1, 2020, this is the third time it has been extended due to pandemic-related delays. Until the new deadline was announced on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had intended for the program to go into effect in May 2023.

“DHS continues to work closely with U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories to meet REAL ID requirements,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a statement. “This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card. DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.” 

Not sure if your ID or driver's license meets protocol? Look in the upper right-hand corner of your ID: Most REAL IDs will feature either a gold or black star, though California IDs will have a gold bear with a star in its middle.

If you haven't gotten your REAL ID yet, head to your state's driver's licensing agency website to schedule your appointment. However, if you miss the deadline, have no fear. TSA's other forms of acceptable identification include passports, passport cards, state-issued Enhanced Driver's Licenses, and DHS-trusted traveler cards.

Article Sources
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  1. Department of Homeland Security. "DHS Announces Extension of REAL ID Full Enforcement Deadline." December 5, 2022.

  2. Department of Homeland Security. "REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed May 11, 2022.

  3. Transportation Security Administration. "Identification." Accessed May 11, 2022.