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For the next two years, you won’t need to obtain a Real ID

The date when federal agencies like the TSA will begin requiring Real ID cards has been pushed back from May 3, 2023, to May 7, 2025, thanks to a government extension. Passengers will have till that day has passed before they will be denied boarding without a valid government-issued photo ID or driver’s licence.

According to a news statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, the extension is intended to “address the residual implications of the COVID-19 epidemic on the ability to get a REAL ID driver’s licence or identity card.” The requirement for numerous forms of identification is a result of the standard’s implementation after 9/11, when it was intended to increase aviation security. This includes documentation of your full legal name, date of birth, SSN, residential address, and immigration status.

As Real ID delays go, this one is hardly the first. The federal government has been required to stop recognising non-compliant IDs since early 2008, three years after the statute mandating them was approved in 2005. Considering that the shift required coordinating with dozens of state and territory governments to revamp the way their DMVs produced IDs and driver’s licenses—and that some state authorities were fiercely opposed to the change—it now seems like that deadline was a little ambitious. That’s not even considering how hard it is to convince everyone over 18 to replace their old IDs.

Previous setbacks often resulted from governments’ lack of readiness; some didn’t begin issuing Real IDs until 2020. The onus of compliance with the law has shifted from governments to people in all but one American territory.