REAL ID Deadline Extended to 2021

A silver lining for all of those procrastinators out there—you now have an extra year to get your new driver's license

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought about by the Coronavirus continues to wreak a whole lot of havoc across the globe, there is at least one piece of good news today: there’s no rush to get your REAL ID now.

Daria Shevtsova Pexels

(Courtesy Pexels/Daria Shevtsova)

Thanks to the shutdown of DMVs across the country, U.S. citizens now have an extra year to get an I.D. that conforms to government requirements. By order of the Department of Homeland Security’s Acting Director, Chad Wolf, you now have until October 1, 2021 before time is up.

In a statement on the DHS website, Mr. Wolf explained: “The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline…States across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs. This action will preclude millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID.”

But why do you even need one?

What is a REAL ID?

In case you aren’t family with the program, a REAL ID is an enhanced form of identification that takes into account minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and I.D. cards.

Why do I need a REAL ID?

Because you won’t be able to travel without one. Federal agencies, including TSA, will only accept REAL ID as an official means of identification once the deadline is here.

Are there any alternatives?

Yes. Passports also work at TSA screening sights, so if you don’t obtain your REAL ID by October 1, 2021, you can still use a valid passport to travel.

So while there isn’t much need to have I.D. for travel at present, it will become necessary once the pandemic is under control. As a result, it is good to know that the deadline has been delayed for all of us who still need to schedule that DMV appointment.

It may even give us something to look forward to—and when has a trip to the DMV ever inspired that kind of anticipation?

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