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Do you have a star on the top of your driver’s license? You now have until October 2021 to get it

REAL ID deadline pushed back by a year due to coronavirus pandemic

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Do you have a star on the top of your driver’s license? You’ll need it if you want to show your license as your form of ID when you fly -- and for months, federal officials had been reminding people, that star must be in place (meaning, your license counts as REAL ID-approved identification) by Oct. 1 of this year.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, that deadline has been moved back by one year.

“Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security, as directed by President Donald J. Trump, is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline. ... States require a 12-month delay and that the new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is (now) October 1, 2021."

Here’s the published Federal Register notice, confirming the new deadline.

This information has been released and updated in the past few months, but with everything going on tied to the global pandemic, we thought it was worth another mention.

States across the country had to close or restrict access to DMVs -- and some DMVs still have situations in which, for example, they’re only open by appointment.

Federal officials said the closures and restricted access precluded millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL IDs.

Extending the deadline will also allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes.

To recap: Starting Oct. 1, 2021, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the U.S. Enhanced driver’s licenses do count as acceptable.

For information by state, including where to obtain a REAL ID, visit the DHS REAL ID website and click or tap on your state on the map.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, is designed to improve security and prevent identification fraud. Although non-essential travel might not be top-of-mind for you just yet, this is just another thing to be aware of.

Read more: REAL ID FAQs


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