Travelers in the United States will have an additional twelve months to obtain a REAL ID-compliant identification. The deadline for enforcement is now October 1, 2021. Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), explained, “The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline. Our state and local partners are working tirelessly with the Administration to flatten the curve and, therefore, we want to remove any impediments to response and recovery efforts. 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.”
According to the U.S. Travel Association, 39% of Americans are unaware that a REAL ID will be required to travel by air. A whopping 83 million Americans do not have any form of acceptable identification that is compliant with REAL ID standards. Clearly, improving public awareness and preparedness is needed. The travel industry cannot suffer any setback once worldwide travel resumes. As President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, Roger Dow, cautions, “The economic damage of coronavirus is already massive, and as we move toward a recovery phase it would be awful if the REAL ID deadline hits and creates yet another obstacle to people traveling.”
What you need to know:
- Starting October 1, 2021, all Americans will need a REAL ID compliant license/ID or another acceptable form of identification to move through airport security
- U.S. passports and U.S. Department of Defense IDs are acceptable
- Most REAL ID cards include a star located in the upper right-hand corner
- Requirements for issuance of a REAL ID license or identification card vary by state
- Contact your state driver’s license agency for specifics
- The REAL ID Act of 2005 mandated issuance of enhanced identification procedures in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks
Meeting professionals can help improve awareness of the October 1, 2021 deadline by encouraging attendees to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card as soon as possible. As the deadline nears, make sure to include REAL ID reminders in your correspondences and promotional materials. Include links to both the Transportation Security Administration and DHS on meeting registration sites and within travel specific emails.
With a little bit of patience and a commitment to spreading awareness, the meeting industry can help minimize any disruption the REAL ID deadline might impose on travel.