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Coronavirus Effects on REAL ID

The REAL ID Act of 2005 is a federal law that requires TSA to accept only drivers licenses or state ID cards with REAL ID as valid for US travellers to fly domestically, although a valid US passport is an alternative. As we previously informed our readers, the deadline for acquiring such a license was October 1, 2020. However, due to the effects of the coronavirus COVID -19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the deadline for one year to October 1, 2021.

All 50 states are now issuing compliant driver’s licenses (where DMVs or equivalent are still open). Because the REAL ID provides TSA with an improved basis for screening travelers, you must provide more background information than previously—much like you provide to obtain a passport.  Check with your state’s DMV or equivalent for details.

Even after that final deadline, not everyone will necessarily need a REAL-ID license. Passports, passport cards, permanent resident cards, and Trusted Traveler cards (which come with Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry) will continue to be adequate identification for domestic flights.

Besides the REAL ID standards, another thing that’s suspended due to the pandemic is Global Entry renewal. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has closed all Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers nationwide until at least May 1. Closure applies to enrollment centers for all four trusted-traveler programs: Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST. Mobile enrollment events are also suspended. So, if you’re considering enrollment, you’ll have to wait until the suspension is lifted.

If you’re at the “conditionally approved” status pending an interview, you can’t schedule an interview at an enrollment center until the centers re-open. CBP says it will keep applicants informed of re-opening schedules. You can see more information here.