REAL ID deadline pushed to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic

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An example of a REAL ID compliant Texas Driver License (image courtesy Texas Department of Public Safety)

WASHINGTON — The federal government will postpone the deadline to obtain REAL ID-compliant identification cards until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a provision included in the Senate stimulus bill.

The previous deadline of Oct. 1, 2020, will be extended until Oct. 1, 2021.

“The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline. Our state and local partners are working tirelessly with the Administration to flatten the curve and, therefore, we want to remove any impediments to response and recovery efforts. States across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs. This action will preclude millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID. 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,” acting secretary for Homeland Security Chad Wolf said on Thursday.

Under the law, Americans are required to visit their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and obtain a REAL ID-compliant card, or alternative such as a U.S. passport, if they want to fly domestically or access federal facilities.

As of February, less than 35% of U.S. identification cards complied with new requirements included in the REAL ID Act.

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