Many notorious fibs have been told to modern travelers: High-speed rail is coming soon. Competition will make airline service better. Mergers will give travelers more choice.
But among the most vexing lies, "You will soon need Real ID to fly" is perhaps the most persistent.
Developed partly as a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Real ID Act was passed in 2005, back when Carrie Underwood was crowned American Idol and Desperate Housewives was a top 10 Nielsen show.
The idea was to standardize types of proof required to obtain ID so that everyone boarding commercial airlines will have verified who they are through documentation of citizenship status and two forms of proof of address.
Roadblocks appeared almost immediately, as some states, citing privacy, refused to implement the tougher form of credentials. (Ironically, in many cases, they're the same states that are currently gung-ho on adding layers of ID requirements to the voting process—but no one ever accused U.S. politics of making sense.)
So the Real ID deadline was pushed back and then pushed again. It was set to finally take effect this coming October 1, and state Departments of Motor Vehicles have been feverishly booking appointments for people eager to obtain ID marked with the gold star (pictured above) denoting compliance.
But those DMVs, stymied by social distancing rules that have slowed down appointment capacity, haven't been moving fast enough. While many states have nearly completed moving residents to the stricter standard, others have still only converted fewer than 25% of the population to the new format.
So on Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas conceded that, yet again, another postponement is necessary.
The new deadline for obtaining Real ID will be May 3, 2023, a delay of another 19 months.
As of that date, if your identification doesn't conform to Real ID, it cannot be used at TSA checkpoints or to enter federal government buildings.
The DHS's information page on the Real ID project can be found here (as of this writing, the outdated deadline is still listed), but the best source of updated requirements will be the office that issues identification in your state.