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There is a new deadline to get the California's Real ID. Here's why you need one

Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Pushed out of mind by a handful of deadline delays, Californians now face another drop-dead date to apply for the Real ID if they plan to travel domestically next year.

The goal of the Real ID Act, approved by Congress in 2005, is to improve security and minimize fraud in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Real ID was designed to create a nationwide standard for identification because some state driver's licenses were not acceptable to board commercial aircraft or cross borders in other states.

Since the planned implementation date was originally announced for 2008, it has been delayed several times, most recently by the pandemic and backlogs at DMV offices.

The current deadline to get the ID is May 7, 2025, and there are no signs of another deferment.

With less than a year to meet the deadline, nearly 17 million Californians — in a state with a population of nearly 40 million — have the Real ID, according to recent data by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

That suggests there are many people who haven't gotten Real IDs and might be wondering if they must.


Why do I need the Real ID?

Starting next year, if you're 18 or older, the Real ID will be accepted as a form of identification to board domestic flights and enter secure federal facilities, such as military bases and federal courthouses. The traditional identification cards or driver's licenses offered by the DMV won't be accepted for such uses.

If you get to an airport and show Transportation Security Administration staff a regular California ID or state-issued driver's license, you will not be permitted through the security checkpoint, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

TSA accepts other forms of identification. See its website for details.


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