DHS: Driver’s Licenses Will Work at Airport Security Until January 2018

States that have yet to comply with the REAL ID Act catch a major break with the two-year extension.

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the deadline for state driver licenses to meet REAL ID standards until Jan. 22, 2018.

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The two-year delay was necessary because less than half of the states in the U.S. have met all the REAL ID requirements. In a press release, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh C. Johnson said that only 23 states were “fully compliant” at this time. Five states, along with American Samoa, are completely non-compliant and were not given any extensions beyond Jan. 1 of this year. They are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington. Twenty-two states had not fully met the requirements of the Act, but were given extensions of various lengths because they were working toward implementation.

The REAL ID program is meant to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses,” according to DHS.

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“The overall goal of the REAL ID Act passed by Congress is to prevent the fraudulent issuance and use of driver’s licenses and identification cards, thereby ensuring the safety and security of the American public,” Johnson said. “Given today’s threat environment, this requirement is as relevant now as it was when the 9/11 Commission recommended it.”

The schedule for enforcing REAL ID compliance now includes two years of warnings to the public about a possible upcoming deadline for getting a different ID.

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July 15, 2016 – TSA “will begin to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.”

Dec. 15, 2016 – TSA will expand that outreach, to include signage, handouts and “other methods” at airport security checkpoints.

Jan. 22, 2018 – If there are states that are still not compliant, passengers with a driver’s license from those states “will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.” Those passengers with a driver’s license from a state that is compliant will be all set.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.

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