REAL ID Deadline Extended Again: What It Means For WA Residents

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The Department of Homeland Security has extended until May 7, 2025, the deadline for enforcement of the REAL ID Act of 2005. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Lucas Combos andBeth Dalbey,Patch Staff

SEATTLE — Washingtonians have an additional 24 months to obtain their REAL IDs, a document that will be necessary to board domestic flights and enter certain federal buildings, after the Department of Homeland Security on Monday extended the enforcement deadline to May 7, 2025.

Officials said the extension is needed, in part, because of lingering problems from COVID-19 that caused backlogs in state agencies charged with issuing driver’s licenses.

Precautions in Washington and many other states included automatically extending expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards, and shifting to appointment-only schedules.

The compliance deadline has been extended multiple times beyond the original date — April 27, 2020 — because of the pandemic. It was extended to October 2021, but in May of that year, DHS extended it again to May 3, 2023.

Past the new enforcement date of May 7, 2025, federal agencies, including the TSA, will not be able to accept identification that does not meet REAL ID standards.

The REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Four pieces of identification are required to obtain a REAL ID: a passport or birth certificate, a Social Security card or tax return, and two documents proving proof of residence, such as a mortgage or rental receipt and a utility bill.

In addition to the stars on REAL ID driver's licenses, the cards themselves will be built with new technology, making them much more difficult to forge, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

If you don't plan to fly domestically or visit a federal office, no worries. You don't need a REAL ID to get a driver's license. Also, the TSA won't require children under 18 to provide identification when they're traveling with an adult companion within the United States, but the companion must have acceptable identification.

The REAL ID isn't a substitute for a passport required for international travel, and it also doesn't affect the ability to vote or register to vote, applications for federal benefits, enter federal facilities that don't require identification, obtain medical care, or participate in police proceedings or investigations.

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