The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday that the implementation date for the identification has been extended to 2025.

A gold circle with a star appears in the right corner of REAL ID compliant driver licenses and identification credentials. Federal law requires that an individual’s first application for a REAL ID compliant credential be made in person.

As of May 7, 2025, all individuals boarding commercial flights and entering federal buildings will need a REAL ID. Individuals do not need a REAL ID to drive or for general identification purposes such as voting, purchasing goods that require ID (such as alcohol or cigarettes), accessing hospitals, visiting the post office, accessing federal courts, or applying for or receiving federal benefits such as social security or veterans’ benefits.

The implementation was originally scheduled to begin on May 3, 2023, however, citing the “lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card,” DHS announced that progress to receive a REAL ID has been “significantly hindered by state driver’s licensing agencies having to work through the backlogs created by the pandemic.”

“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 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. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.”

Driver’s licenses and identification cards compliant with REAL ID are issued by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories, according to DHS.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Drivers License” by Romyrome555. CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Department of Homeland Security” by Department of Homeland Security.