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The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday it would be delaying the deadline for Americans to apply and receive a Real ID — a driver’s license or identification card with a gold star in the top right corner — due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration decided on a 12-month delay extending the deadline to get a Real ID until October 1, 2021, after Departments of Motor Vehicles across the nation were forced to close as state officials took precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, including shutting crowded places.
“States across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs. This action will preclude millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID,” Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement on Twitter.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 in an effort to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. The Act also prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes such as air travel.
The Act was aimed at tightening security measures to obtain an ID post 9/11, requiring DMVs to ask for more paperwork to prove residency and social security numbers than would have otherwise have been required for a standard license.
“Extending the deadline will also allow @DHSgov to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes,” Wolf said.
The slow rollout of the new IDs by the federal government has taken nearly 15 years to implement fully, but all states in the U.S. are mandated to comply with the act by the new deadline.