The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in December that it would begin posting signs in the country’s airports to remind people that beginning this month it would start to enforce identification requirements stipulating all state-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards needed for fliers to board planes would have to be compliant with the REAL ID Act.
Inspired by recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the REAL ID Act was signed into law by President Bush in 2005.
The law prompted a mass crackdown on fake IDs and mandated that all states and territories enact stricter standards before issuing IDs. New technology was rolled out that made it harder for criminals to trick the system and mimic ID cards. The new rules also meant that Americans needed more proof of identity — such as original birth certificates and the like — when applying for the cards.
Since then, most states have complied with the new ID rules but several of them have dragged their feet for various reasons ranging from privacy concerns to budgeting issues.
The TSA now says it will wait until October 2018 to enforce the new ID rules, according to Business Insider. The extra months are specifically to give people in nine states —Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington — time to get compliant. It also means people from those states will be able to fly domestically with their current IDs up to right before the holiday season.
People in those nine states may want to consider ordering a passport just in case so as to become TSA-compliant sooner rather than later. If you don’t expedite the process, the typical time it takes to get a passport is four to six weeks, according to the Department of State.
It is the purview of the head of the Department of Homeland Security to grant REAL ID extensions, the agency says on its website: “Federal agencies may not accept for official purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by states that do not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act. However, the Act authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant extensions of time to meet the REAL ID requirements to states that provide adequate justification for noncompliance. Federal agencies may accept for official purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by noncompliant states that have been granted extensions by DHS.”
One of the main criticisms about the REAL ID Act, is that many people see it as the government’s attempt to use Americans’ personal information to create a national database that could be used for nefarious reasons. This is what Homeland Security says about that assertion; “REAL ID is a national set of standards, not a national identification card. REAL ID does not create a federal database of driver license information. Each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances. The purpose of REAL ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure.”