Sample of REAL ID License, which will be required for air travel...

Sample of REAL ID License, which will be required for air travel by May 7, 2025. Credit: NYSDMV

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that they have postponed the deadline for two years for all Americans to get an enhanced REAL ID driver’s license or other identification required to fly.

The deadline was looming for residents to upgrade their license in order to board a plane by May 3, 2023. Homeland Security and Department of Motor Vehicles officials pushed back the deadline to May 7, 2025. Homeland Security officials said the delay will allow states to upgrade license renewals and correct issues from delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the third time the REAL ID program has been delayed since it was first set to go into effect in 2016. It was last delayed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

New York DMV officials said they will continue to process Real ID applications at local DMV offices.

What is REAL ID?

Congress passed the REAL-ID law in 2005 following a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission to enhance security for passengers boarding planes following the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks.

The ID program was designed to set uniform security standards, using anti-counterfeiting technology, fraud prevention and background checks to verify identification. The REAL-ID program will require all air travelers 18 and older to upgrade or obtain a REAL ID state-issued driver’s license or identification card to pass through airport TSA security for domestic flights.

All 50 states, as well as Washington D.C. and four U.S. territories are issuing enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards. The REAL ID is labeled as enhanced and contains a flag emblem issued by the DMV.

Why was the deadline delayed and can I still fly with my state-issued driver’s license?

Federal officials said the rollout of the REAL ID was severely hampered by delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and backlogs by state DMVs processing driver’s license applications. Most states automatically extended driver’s licenses that expired and shifted to appointment-only processing.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said 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. ”

All state driver’s licenses and ID cards will continue to be accepted until the new May 2025 deadline, state officials said.

How do I apply for a REAL ID?

State DMV officials still encourage New Yorkers to apply for the new REAL ID licenses.

Federal law requires upgrading a REAL ID in person at local DMV offices. State officials said customers can be prescreened before visiting the DMV, preferably by appointment. Customers will be told what documents and paperwork is required.

Whether or not residents are due to renew their license, they can upload their applications and Long Island DMV representatives can determine what else is needed. Residents can also go on the DMV’s website to determine what is needed to bring into their nearby DMV office, such as a Social Security card and proof of residency.

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