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REAL ID enforcement postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday, that they will delay enforcing the REAL ID Act until October 1, 2021. This decision is expected to promote social distancing in the months ahead by reducing the number of people visiting driver licensing offices to obtain compliant identification.

Passed by Congress in 2005 in an effort to strengthen security standards after 9/11, the REAL ID Act had been scheduled to take effect October 1, 2020.

When enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins, every air traveler 18 years of age or older will need a compliant form of ID in order to fly within the United States or access certain federal buildings, including military bases. There are many options.

Washington state issues two types of REAL ID-compliant documents: enhanced driver licenses and enhanced ID cards. These can be obtained only by visiting a driver licensing service office. With the enforcement date pushed back, residents seeking an ID upgrade can rest a little easier and avoid DOL offices for a while.

Residents with standard driver licenses and IDs who will eventually want an enhanced version can renew online now and upgrade later for only the difference in cost ($4 per year).

About one-third of Americans have a REAL ID-compliant document, according to the Department of Homeland Security.