After 9/11, especially among airline passengers, Congress approved the Real ID Act in 2005 to establish federal standards for identity cards with the goal of enhancing security and reducing fraud.
The deadline for using the new federally compatible identity card on domestic flights was postponed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday to May 7, 2025.
According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security, the 24-month extension will address "the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver's license or identification card" after that process was "significantly hindered" by processing backlogs from the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, several state offices either prolonged the validity of driver's licenses and identification cards or switched to appointment-only availability, according to the department, which had an impact on business operations.
According to a federal analysis of state-provided data, little over half of all Americans with a license or identity card have gotten one that is Real ID-compliant. All states didn't start providing certified Real IDs until the past two years, removing another another barrier to the identification system that had existed for a long time.
Over 5 million more people in California now have Real IDs than there were roughly two years ago. According to the most recent information from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, as of Monday, roughly 14.8 million Californians had obtained a driver's license or identification card that complied with Real ID, accounting for roughly 43% of the total number of licenses and cards issued this year.
DMV officials pointed out that some people might choose to get a Real ID identification card even though they already have a driver's license that isn't federally compliant, which would cause numbers to overlap.
If they have another form of identification recognized by the Transportation Security Administration, like a passport, some travelers might choose to forgo a Real ID.
Licenses that are Real ID compliant are identified by a star at the top of the card. The upper right corner of upgraded cards in California also features a gold bear.