Real ID license deadline should be further delayed, travel association says

The US Travel Association doesn’t want anything to get in the way of economic recovery.

Ohio Department of Public Safety

If we lived in some alternative timeline where the coronavirus pandemic didn’t exist, you’d need a Real ID license to board any aircraft in the US as of Oct. 1, 2020. But, as COVID-19 swept across the US, the federal government pushed a deadline for the new license to Oct. 1, 2021. Now, the US Travel Association thinks the US will need even more time.

In a statement released last week, the association, a nonprofit organization that represents all major components of the US travel industry, called on the federal government to further delay the Real ID requirement. If you don’t know about Real ID, once it becomes a requirement, you’ll need the updated license to board any aircraft in the US. Without it, the government will require a second form of ID, such as a US passport. If you’re not sure if you have a Real ID license, look for a star in the corner.

According to the US Department of Homeland Security, fewer than one-third of Americans hold a Real ID license currently, and the US Travel Association said the required license should not hinder any economic recovery as the US hopefully works through the coronavirus pandemic through next year. Experts believe a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for mass distribution sometime in 2021, and as the travel industry continues to tread water, the association said it’s in the economy’s interest to further delay the requirement. It’s not hard to imagine potential airline passengers turned away because they do not have a Real ID license by the 2021 deadline.

The association suggested the government delay the requirement until it can safely sort out alternatives so no one is turned away from a security checkpoint. Possible solutions include TSA Precheck and allowing states to use modern forms of identity verification that weren’t created in 2005 when the the government first enacted the Real ID.

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