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COVID-19: REAL ID Deadline For Boarding Domestic Flights Extended

New Yorkers will get a year's reprieve before they need a REAL ID or enhanced drivers license to board domestic flights. Photo Credit: TSA
Connecticut residents will get a year's reprieve before they a REAL ID or enhanced driver's license to board domestic flights. Photo Credit: TSA

Travelers will have an extra year to “get real” before needing a new license to board domestic flights due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Originally, beginning on Oct. 1, 2020, standard licenses would no longer make the cut for those looking to travel, requiring them to register for a REAL ID to board planes.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced most to stay inside, practice social distancing and closed DMV offices, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to push that date a year, to Oct. 1, 2021.

There are now three different forms of driver’s license or New York State identification, a standard - which will not be enough to board a domestic flight alone come October next year - enhanced, or the REAL ID license, which is in coordination with a new law aimed to increase security to travelers.

"The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline," Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement Thursday, March 26. "States across the country are temporarily closing or restricting access to DMVs. This action will preclude millions of people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID."

The REAL ID will feature a star in the corner of the license. The REAL ID will also become the standard for entering federal facilities. The requirements came following recommendations by the 9/11 Commission.

According to a new study by the U.S. Travel Association, 57 percent of people said they were unaware of the October 2020 (now October 2021) deadline for domestic air travel, with approximately 39 percent saying they currently have zero Real ID-compliant documents.

In order to obtain a REAL ID, one must go in person to the DMV with proof identity and proof of Connecticut residency. There is no additional fee. There is a $30 fee to get an enhanced license, which can be used in lieu of a passport to enter Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries by land or sea.

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