The Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for state driver licenses to meet REAL ID standards until Jan. 22, 2018.
That's good — though not entirely surprising — for people in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington and American Samoa, who will still be able to use their drivers' licenses at airport security checkpoints until then.
The REAL ID program is meant to "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses," according to DHS.
"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," said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. "Given today's threat environment, this requirement is as relevant now as it was when the 9/11 Commission recommended it."
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So far, 23 states and territories have completely met the new standards, while six are completely noncompliant. The other states and territories are getting there, and the extension is meant to give all local governments time to meet the standards before their identification cards are useless for domestic air travel.
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.
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.
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