Skip to main content

The Real ID deadline has been extended (yet again): What travelers need to know

The Real ID deadline has been backed up two whole years — here's what that means for your travel plans

Significant changes were coming for travelers in 2023. But they’ve been scrapped before we could even say “Happy New Year.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the REAL ID deadline by 24 months, backing up the date for full enforcement of the new regulations from May 3, 2023, to May 5, 2025. 

long shot of airport
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The new deadline gives states more time to execute REAL ID requirements and gives air travelers a reprieve. 

“DHS continues to work closely with U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories to meet REAL ID requirements,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a news release. “This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card. DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.” 

For the unfamiliar, the REAL ID requirements state that U.S. adult travelers ages 18 and older have to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another state photo ID card. What does that mean, exactly? A Real ID is an enhanced DMV-issued license, learner’s permit, or non-driver ID. It has a star on the top of it. 

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 after a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission. The legislation put minimum security standards for state-issued identification cards like driver’s licenses.

Though travel requirements are the ones making headlines, the REAL ID will also be needed to enter specific federal buildings

The DHS cited the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for the extension, saying response efforts like appointment-only operations to reduce foot traffic and the spread of the virus impacted people’s ability to get a federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s license. The pandemic also created a backlog for state driver’s licensing agencies to work through, according to the DHS.

Your DMV can provide you with more guidance on how to get a Real ID. However, the DHS offered some tips on a website dedicated to Frequently Asked Questions.  

At a minimum, you’ll need to show documentation proving the following:

  1. Your full legal name
  2. Date of birth
  3. Social security number
  4. Two proofs of your address of primary residence 
  5. Lawful status

If a social security number is not available, you can provide the following instead:

  1. A W-2 form
  2. An SSA-1099 form
  3. A non-SSA-1099 form
  4. A pay stub with the applicant’s name and SSN on it.

Your state’s driver’s licensing agency’s websites will have a list of the exact documents you need to get a REAL ID where you live.

Children under 18 are not subject to REAL ID requirements. Passports will also still be accepted.

While the extension gives traveler’s a reprieve (and is the latest in a long line of extensions), the DHS believes the requirements will go into effect in 2025. Consider resolving to get your REAL ID in 2023, as it’ll be part of your travel checklist in a couple of years.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
TSA is about to demand Real ID for most travel, and 32% of Americans don’t even know how to get one: Report
Spoiler: You need to contact the DMV
A suitcase open at home being packed with travel documents nearby

Navigating the airport can be a daunting experience, especially when it comes to ensuring you have the necessary documents. For international flights, keeping up with your passport is crucial, but for domestic flights, simply having your standard-issue driver's license will suffice — though not for much longer. Starting May 7, 2025, passengers will be required to have a Real ID in order to fly in the United States. The problem? Many Americans have no clue how to obtain one.

What is a Real ID?
Real ID is a government-issued identification card or driver's license that meets enhanced security standards established by the Real ID Act, required for domestic air travel and access to federal facilities. A Real ID can be identified by a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of a driver's license, driver's permit, or identification card. Beginning May 7, 2025, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can only accept a driver's license or identification card that meets these standards. 

Read more
Your travel bag probably doesn’t have an Apple AirTag, but it needs one — here’s why
AirTags are tiny, and make losing baggage almost impossible
Apple AirTags in carrying cases

Anyone who has ever had to replace a lost suitcase full of clothing on vacation understands the hassle it can be. Oh, and don't forget about the shoes, toiletries, and accessories — the cost adds up quickly. Plus, who wants to spend their hard-earned vacation days schlepping to a store to buy a new wardrobe? I feel like I'm not alone in saying that precious time is much better spent enjoying the fruits of your trip planning, relaxing, or exploring. But that's only one of the reasons why every travel bag you have needs an Apple Air Tag.

Whether your wayward bag is buried beneath a massive pile of lost luggage in a foreign airport or accidentally left behind in the back seat of your Uber, tracking an AirTag may be the best bet you have to track it down. The concept is super simple and nearly foolproof. Slip an AirTag in your suitcase, and you'll almost always be able to find out where it is. Above and beyond the obvious, there are plenty of great benefits to keeping an Apple AirTag in each piece of luggage when you travel — both checked bags and carry-ons. 

Read more
CheapCaribbean has a ridiculously simple new way to find the best beach vacation travel deals
Find the best beach resort deal for you with this new tool
An idyllic Caribbean beach resort with crystal-clear water and a blue daytime sky backdrop

There's honestly nothing more relaxing to me than laying beachside, soaked in sunshine, with the sound of waves crashing in the background, but I also want to make the most of the money it takes to achieve a perfectly planned beach vacation. When it comes to vacation planning, simplicity is the name of the game. Long gone are the days of trekking to a travel agency to sit desk-side while a stranger plots and plans a trip for you. Now, the internet holds nearly unlimited access to desirable locales worldwide. When you want to get away, a few taps on a keyboard will get you there. But what about when you want the best of the best on a budget?

Look no further than CheapCaribbean Vacations' latest innovation: the Budget Beach Finder. The new trip planning tool is here to revolutionize how travelers book their next tropical escape, revealing the best travel deals on beach vacations to the Caribbean islands and beyond. Whether you're a spontaneous traveler, a budget-conscious explorer, or simply eager to uncover hidden gems on your next trip without breaking the bank, the Budget Beach Finder has you covered.

Read more