The Department of Homeland Security (DHS or the Department) is announcing that after more than 15 years since Congress passed the REAL ID Act, all 50 states are now in full compliance issuing these cards, with most states becoming compliant in the last four years. To date, the 50 states have issued more than 105 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, representing 38 percent of all driver’s licenses and identification card holders.
On October 1, 2021 – less than 13 months away – full enforcement of REAL ID will take effect at all federally regulated airports, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants.
The Department continues to urge Americans to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card or acceptable alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card prior to the October 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.
Passed by Congress in 2005 following a 9/11 Commission recommendation, the REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like the Transportation Security Administration, from accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that do not meet these standards after specific deadlines.
Security standards include incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud, and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who he or she claims to be. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and identification cards for access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and commercial aircraft. These standards have significantly improved the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.
Because of the potential for confusion about the REAL ID Act enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.
- Check your state-issued driver’s license or identification card for the star. REAL ID-compliant cards generally have a star marking in the upper left- or right-hand corner. Most acceptable alternatives, such as state-issued Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, do not have the star, but are acceptable for official REAL ID Act compliance purposes. For more information on EDLs, please go to www.dhs.gov/enhanced-drivers-licenses-what-are-they.
- Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. Check to see if you have the proper identification to fly at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow sufficient processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.
- Check with the federal agency you plan to visit, in advance, to find out whether identification is required, and if so, what types of identity documents are acceptable. While most Federal agencies will continue to accept non-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards until the enforcement deadline of October 1, 2021, some – like Department of Defense facilities and posts – no longer accept them.
- Read answers to REAL ID frequently asked questions at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
DHS continues working closely with all states and territories to implement REAL ID Act requirements. The women and men of DHS will continue to work tirelessly to keep our country and our people safe.