What is the REAL ID Act?
The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress, that will implement the Act in a measured, fair, and responsible way. Secure driver's licenses and identification documents are a vital component of our national security framework. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.”
The original implementation was set to begin on October 1, 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, DHS has announced that it is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline to October 1, 2021. A notice of the new deadline was published in the Federal Register on April 27, 2020, and can be found at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-04-27/pdf/2020-08481.pdf.
Beginning October 1, 2021, Federal agencies will be prohibited from accepting noncompliant driver’s licenses and identification cards for accessing Federal facilities, military installations and nuclear power plants.
The Act does not require individuals to present identification where it is not currently required to access a Federal facility (such as to enter the public areas of the Smithsonian) nor does it prohibit an agency from accepting other forms of identity documents other than documents from non-compliant states (such as a U.S. passport or passport card).
The Act’s prohibitions do not affect other uses of driver’s licenses or identification cards – including licenses and cards from noncompliant states – unrelated to official purposes as defined in the Act.
The REAL ID Act and the Department of Commerce
DOC is committed to comply with the REAL ID Act in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and regulatory timeframes.
For more information related to the REAL ID Act, visit https://www.dhs.gov/real-id