Count Down to REAL ID

Countdown to REAL ID


driver's licenseREAL ID Enforcement Update

December 29, 2014 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that residents who currently use a non-compliant license or identification card issued from a state who is deemed in compliance with REAL ID will now have until October 1, 2020 before their current license or card has to be upgraded to a REAL ID compliant license or card in order to access federal facilities. The previous deadline was December 1, 2014 for those born after 1964 and December 1, 2017 for those born before. DHS also made clear that nothing in this update impacts license or card holders from non-compliant states. A list of compliant and non-compliant states can be found here

Oct. 29, 2013 | DHS announced that phased in enforcement of the REAL ID Act will begin on Jan. 20, 2014. This announcement follows a nearly year-long period of deferred enforcement. The REAL ID Act aims to create national standards for state issued driver’s licenses and identification cards so they may be used to board commercial aircraft and access certain federal facilities.

DHS plans to implement REAL ID enforcement over four phases, with each phase consisting of two distinct deadlines. The first deadline will begin a three-month “warning” period where noncompliant IDs will still be accepted. Following this three-month period, full enforcement of the phase will begin, and IDs from noncompliant states will no longer be accepted for federal purposes as defined in the act.

Enforcement Schedule

  • Phase 1: Restricted areas for DHS Headquarters - Nebraska Ave. Complex
    • Jan. 20, 2014 – Begin notification period (three-month period)
    • April 21, 2014 – Full enforcement
  • Phase 2: Restricted areas for all federal facilities and nuclear power plants
    • April 21, 2014  - Begin notification period (three-month period)
    • July 21, 2014 - Full enforcement
  • Phase 3: Semi-restricted areas for the remaining federal facilities
    • Oct.  20, 2014 - Begin notification period (three-month period)
    • Jan. 19, 2015 - Full enforcement
  • DHS will evaluate the first three phases to determine how to implement phase 4.  Phase 4, which pertains to entry of commercial aircraft, will go into effect no sooner than Jan. 1, 2016. 

DHS defines “restricted areas” as those that are normally accessible only to agency personal, contractors and their guests. “Semi-restricted” areas are defined as those areas that public can enter but are subject to identification control.

State Progress (updated 10/29/2014)

The latestest information on state implementation status can be found here.

State Responses

NCSL Policy Directive

 Background Information |  The Act, Regulations, Implementation Guidance

Additional Resources

REAL ID Announcements

NCSL Resources

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