The agency announced on Monday it will begin enforcing the more stringent identification requirement on May 7, 2025, after previously setting a deadline of May 3, 2023. The announcement marks DHS’s third extension.
REAL ID-compliant documents, which are generally signified by a small star, are already required for people to enter certain restricted federal facilities.
“DHS continues to work closely with U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories to meet REAL ID requirements,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro 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,” he added. “DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.”
The U.S. began moving toward the requirement after lawmakers passed a law in 2005 establishing minimum security standards for driver’s licenses and identification documents.
The law came in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission and seeks to implement additional anti-counterfeiting and anti-fraud measures.
Once the deadline passes, travelers 18 years and older will need a REAL ID-compliant identification document to pass through the nation’s airports.
The requirement was set to go into effect in 2020, but the agency began granting extensions as the pandemic shut down Departments of Motor Vehicles and other identification-issuing agencies.
Monday’s announcement marks the third extension of the requirement’s expansion to air travel.
DHS first granted an extension until October 2021 before issuing a second extension to May 2023, making the latest announcement the longest extension yet of roughly two years.