The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says states can allow Real ID applicants to submit the required documents electronically in an effort to help meet the October 1, 2020 deadline for enhanced driver’s licenses. After that date, travelers flying domestically must provide an enhanced form of identification that is compliant with the Real ID Act of 2005.
Now DHS has adopted the concept of electronic submission of documents, and it may consider others, reports USA Today.
The move is an effort to avoid a travel nightmare when the Real ID deadline hits in just over seven months. Data from the U.S. Travel Association indicates that 57 percent of Americans remain unaware of the October 1 deadline. An estimated 99 million Americans do not have a Real ID or any alternative form of accepted identification, such as a U.S. passport, military ID or Global Entry card that will allow them to pass through airport checkpoints after the Real ID deadline.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has set up signage at airports around the country to warn travelers of the impending deadline, and put a countdown clock on its Real ID information page.
Last November, the DHS issued a request for information that solicited technology input from the private sector that could assist states in speeding up the process “in the digital submission, receipt, and authentication of documents and information applicants must provide when applying for a Real ID compliant driver’s license or identification card.”
Earlier this month, two congresswomen, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) introduced the bipartisan Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act of 2020, which would allow domestic airline travelers to use TSA PreCheck as an alternative to Real ID when traveling beginning on October 1. The bill also requires TSA to develop a contingency plan to address travelers who attempt to travel without Real ID-compliant credentials after the deadline.
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes called DHS’s decision “a step forward in streamlining the compliance process while upholding the security requirements of the REAL ID Act.” But she warned that “the challenge remains that tens of millions of Americans do not yet possess REAL ID-compliant identification, and we won’t solve this issue by pushing people to the DMV.”
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