The deadline to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license to fly domestically has been extended again. Beginning May 2, 2023, every traveler 18 or older must have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license to fly within the U.S.
The deadline was extended from Oct. 1, 2021 to May 2, 2023 due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the April 27 announcement from Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The announcement also says that the pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity.
“Protecting the health, safety, and security of our communities is our top priority,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.”
If your ID is not REAL ID-compliant, you must present a different form of ID, like a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) agents to board a plane. If you don’t have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification or any other acceptable form of ID, you won’t be allowed to fly. Seriously. TSA and DHS are not joking around with this.
To get a REAL ID, you must go to your state’s driver’s license agency (aka the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV) and bring documentation that proves who you are and where you live. Check with your DMV to be sure you bring the right things before you go. Many DMV websites have checklists for you to follow.
For example, if you got married and your current last name is different than the one on your birth certificate, you should bring:
Travelers without a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card by May 2, 2023 can still fly domestically, but they must have a valid passport to board the plane. But anyone planning to travel in the U.S. should get one so you don’t have to think about REAL ID anymore.