If you’ve been inside a DMV over the last decade, you may wonder what a “Real ID” actually is. Well, you don’t have to learn too much about it yet. That’s because the Department of Homeland Security extended the Real ID deadline again earlier this month. You won’t have to get a Real ID until March 2025.
A “Real ID” is a type of driver’s license that has enhanced security measures. The Real ID Act, which Congress passed back in 2005, stipulated that driver’s licenses used for identification in sensitive situations needed to have greater security measures. Most notably, the act mandates using a Real ID or passport for air travel rather than just a regular license.
Real IDs make use of greater security measures that make them harder to forge. Anti-counterfeit technology and better documentary proof of a person’s identity are part of the Real ID experience. Of course, exactly what those measures are remains under close guard. We can’t have forgers knowing what security measures they have to beat, can we?
The Real ID Deadline Has Been Extended Many Times
When the act passed in 2005, there was a deadline for states to become compliant in 2008. States could apply for extensions for that deadline up to 2011. However, the DHS has repeatedly extended that deadline over the years, citing state DMV backlogs.
This most recent extension is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made processing Real ID applications difficult. DMVs across the country dealt with major staffing issues that contributed to massive delays in issuing Real IDs. Thankfully, the DHS decided not to punish ordinary citizens for these bureaucratic snarls. Therefore, for now, you can still use your regular driver’s license to fly.
While the deadline is not here yet, if you don’t have a Real ID already, you might want to get one soon. These backlogs won’t go on forever, after all! So make sure you have everything you need to get your new California driver’s license.