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You have one year to get a REAL ID before the deadline

The May 3, 2023 deadline marks the date when those without a REAL ID-compliant license or passport will not be able to board domestic flights.

WASHINGTON — The deadline for airline passengers 18 and older to have a REAL ID is one year away as of May 3. 

The deadline marks the date when those without a REAL ID-compliant license or passport will not be able to board domestic flights, visit a military base or enter some federal buildings.

Currently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lists regular driver’s licenses and state photo ID cards as acceptable forms of identification at airport checkpoints, but it notes that all such IDs must be REAL ID compliant by the May 3, 2023, deadline for anyone seeking to fly within the U.S.

For those non-Washington residents, check the top right corner of your license for a star to see if it is compliant with REAL ID requirements. Washingtonians can remove federal limits only by getting an enhanced driver's license. 

Enhanced driver's licenses are also an option for residents in Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota and New York.  

People are getting compliant IDs as they renew, but it takes time and the process was slowed by the pandemic, with many state agencies operating at limited capacity.

All 50 U.S. states, along with the District of Columbia and four out of five U.S. territories, are covered by the REAL ID Act and must comply with Real ID requirements. 

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, following a recommendation from the 9/11 commission. The change led to minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards. 

In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security announced REAL ID requirements for air travelers would take effect in 2016. Enforcement was delayed several times, most recently in April 2021 when Homeland Security pushed the deadline back to May 3, 2023, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it announced the latest deadline extension, Homeland Security said 43% of state driver's licenses and IDs were REAL ID compliant. 

In 2020, an estimated 83 million American adults said they would not have any form of TSA-accepted identification once the deadline passes.

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