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DHS Pushes REAL ID Deadline Back Again – This Time to 2025

The Department of Homeland Security has once again pushed back the deadline to get a federally compliant REAL ID. Officials say lingering problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic are to blame for the delay.

Real ID is one of the few federal laws that has imposed an unfunded mandate on states in recent years. (Shutterstock)
(TNS) — Marylanders who don’t have their REAL IDs have additional time to get the star in the upper-right corner of their state-issued licenses, which will be needed to board domestic flights and enter certain federal buildings.

The Department of Homeland Security in December announced the two-year extension and booted the May 3, 2023, federally mandated deadline. The new date is May 7, 2025.

The extension is needed partly because of lingering problems from the coronavirus pandemic. Progress “has been significantly hindered” over the past two years because states are working through a backlog with issuing REAL ID-compliant cards, the agency said.

That is not the case in Maryland, where over 91% of residents are REAL ID-compliant, said Motor Vehicle Administration Administrator Chrissy Nizer.

“We are excited and proud that we have been a leader in the area of REAL ID compliance,” she said. “We’ve been steady at it for many years — [it] did not happen overnight, certainly.”

The REAL ID law — passed in 2005 by Congress in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — created security standards for states to use in issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards. This includes incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology and documentation requirements to verify identities.

States are required to ensure residents get REAL ID-compliant cards, which are needed to board domestic commercial flights and gain access to federal facilities and military bases.

Over 4.4 million Marylanders have a REAL ID, and fewer than 436,000 still need to get theirs, Nizer said. The extension gives jurisdictions that are lagging more time to catch up. The national average for REAL ID compliance is over 50%, according to DHS’ latest stats, Nizer said.

“We did a full-scale education campaign, from advertisements at the airport to going out to community fairs and events and really providing accessible information to individuals,” Nizer said, in addition to online tools and document guides.

Maryland in 2016 began issuing licenses with a star in the upper-right corner, the symbol of REAL ID compliance. The DHS in 2017 told Maryland’s MVA that to get REAL ID moving forward, everyone who came in for a license needed to provide proof of age and identity, proof of Social Security, and two forms of proof of Maryland residency.

Previously, the DHS approved Maryland’s plan, which dates back to 2009, of requiring only those who were applying for their first licenses — and not those renewing existing licenses — to provide such documents.

Maryland was one of the states to adopt the federal requirements early on and initially targeted new people coming to Maryland and new drivers, Nizer said. The agency then focused on those who were renewing their driver’s licenses and ID cards.

The agency also began a pilot program in March 2021 in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health’s Division of Vital Records to allow a Maryland-born resident to request a certified copy of their birth certificate and have it printed on the spot to fulfill the proof of identity requirement.

People can walk out with not only a REAL ID card but also a certified birth certificate, Nizer said. Thousands of customers have taken advantage of this new service. It doesn’t take long for most people to get their REAL ID, and transaction times have decreased to 10 minutes, she said.

After the enforcement deadline, federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, will accept from adults only ID cards with the star or other acceptable forms of identification, such as a passport.

“If they don’t have another one of those documents that are allowed by DHS, then they have to go through a secondary screening process, from what we’ve been told,” Nizer said.

How to get a REAL ID

First, check your status with MDOT.

To get a REAL ID, you must schedule an appointment and go in person to an MDOT MVA branch.

Bring documents that show proof of age and identity, proof of Social Security, and two forms of proof of Maryland residency.

©2023 Baltimore Sun, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.