Brianna Chambers, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Less than a week ago, residents in 22 states were panicking over the possibility that their state-issued ID cards would be insufficient to access domestic flights. Many thought they would need passports to travel between states.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has now approved requests for an extension, granting 17 states more time to provide appropriate, REAL ID-compliant identification for residents.
A report earlier this week named 22 states that would face conflict next year for not providing standard ID cards to residents that are compliant with the REAL ID Act. Officials with the Transportation Security Administration were instructed to allow only travelers with REAL ID-compliant identification through airport security and onto domestic flights in the U.S. starting Jan. 22, 2018.
Twenty-seven states currently provide residents with standard, compliant IDs. Residents in the remaining states were to obtain passports, enhanced driver’s licenses and other forms of acceptable identification if they wished to travel within the country and abroad.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 in an effort to strengthen identification rules at airports. The 9/11 Commission recommended it to the federal government to set standards for how IDs –- such as driver’s licenses -– are issued.
The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. Under the law, state driver's licenses and ID cards have to be issued only to people who can prove they are legally living in the United States. If state licenses don’t meet the standards, then federal agencies -– such as the TSA -- will not accept them.
Despite all extensions, there is a hard deadline for states to require compliant REAL IDs: Oct. 1, 2020.
“There are no anticipated changes to the enforcement schedule, and we are tracking that by 2020, 15 years after this act has been passed, that DHS will require that all states are compliant with Real ID as per federal law,” DHS spokeswoman Justine Whelan said, according to The Washington Post.