Count Down to REAL ID

Countdown to REAL ID


driver's licenseREAL ID Enforcement Update

Dec. 20, 2013 | The Department of Homeland Security (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 2/7/2014)

  • Compliant States/Territories: DHS provided a list of 21 states currently found to have met the standards of the REAL ID Act of 2005 for driver’s licenses and identification cards. These states are Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 
  • Extensions: DHS also announced that 21 states/territories—Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and the Virgin Islands—will receive a compliance extension based on their movement toward full compliance. Licenses from these states will be accepted for federal purposes during the extension period. These extensions will expire on Oct. 10, 2014 and can be renewed.
  • States/Territories not in Compliance: There are 14 states/territories—Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York[i], Northern Marianas Islands, Oklahoma and Washington[ii]—currently in a noncompliance status. These jurisdictions can be granted an extension in the future if they are deemed to be moving toward full compliance.

[i] Federal officials may continue to accept Enhanced Driver’s Licenses from this state.

[ii] Ibid.

State Responses

NCSL Policy Directive

 Background Information |  The Act, Regulations, Implementation Guidance

Additional Resources

REAL ID Announcements

NCSL Resources

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