Emerging Issues in Security

Deadline Extends for REAL ID Compliance

Most travelers have time to get the new high-security driver’s licenses needed to fly in the future. As reported in the Total Security Daily Advisor back in November, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) planned to impose the REAL ID Act in early 2018, but the new deadline is now late 2020.

ID cards

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A REAL ID-compliant driver’s license is a new, higher-security identification (ID) that will be required to board domestic flights. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has pushed the official deadline for enforcement of REAL ID from January 22, 2018, to October 1, 2020, for the 27 states that already have them available; other states have been granted extensions.

The REAL ID Act is a counterterrorism measure that followed 9/11. The law calls for states to issue driver’s licenses with more security features, such as scannable bar codes and digital photos. The more secure driver’s license pertains to accessing federal facilities and military bases, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

While there is still some confusion over deadlines, you can check your state’s status on the DHS’s site, where a color-coded, clickable map breaks down as follows:

  1. Green states or territories are compliant: 27 states and the District of Columbia already have begun issuing the new licenses and are highlighted in green on the DHS site’s map. Many drivers may not realize they already have REAL ID-compliant licenses, since some states have been issuing them for a few years. These states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and others.
  2. Yellow states or territories have filed for an extension: If you have a driver’s license from one of the map’s yellow-colored states, they have been granted an extension for compliance. More than 20 states are yellow. Those states include California, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and more.
  3. Blue states or territories are under review: Extension approvals are still pending for U.S. territories.
  4. Red states or territories are noncompliant: American Samoa is not in compliance with the REAL ID Act. On January 19, the DHS sent a notice to American Samoa on REAL ID enforcement, stating that beginning February 5, 2018, residents of American Samoa will no longer be able to use territory-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards to fly domestically or enter federal buildings and military installations.

American Samoa formerly had an extension that allowed federal agencies to continue to accept its driver’s licenses and ID cards. However, that extension expired on October 10, 2017, triggering a 3-month grace period before enforcement would begin on February 5, 2018. American Samoa has subsequently not been able to demonstrate a clear achievable plan for compliance as needed to receive a new extension.

The DHS continues to work with American Samoa on what actions it can take to receive a new extension. American Samoa is the only state or territory that has not reached compliance or received an extension.

By October 2020, all travelers must have ID in compliance with REAL ID or they will not be allowed through TSA security checkpoints. According to the DHS, many states have either adopted the more secure driver’s licenses or are working on new compliant driver’s licenses. Some of the states have been granted extensions to make their licenses compliant.

REAL ID directs federal agencies to accept only state-issued IDs that meet the federal security standards.