As Deadline Looms, DHS to Streamline Real ID Process

Driver's license graphic
Photo by 4zevar / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is exploring the possibility of using online applications for the switch to Real IDs with just a few months to go before the October 1, 2020 deadline. 

The DHS has published a request for comment on technologies that could streamline the process by which states and residents get IDs that are compliant with the new regulations, including the possibility of allowing states to move more of the application process online. According to the report, the DHS is “interested in concepts that reduce application burden, processing time, and administrative workload, and that effectively ensure security, protect privacy, and manage risk of fraud.”

Under the terms of the Real ID act, on October 1, 2020, Americans without IDs that are required by the legislation will be barred from flying. According to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, millions could be caught unprepared. Seventy-two percent of Americans in the study said that they either do not have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or are unsure if they do. All told, 99 million Americans could be unable to fly by the time of the deadline, according to the study. 

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In a statement reacting to the decision U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said that the organization appreciated the move. 

“It is a much different security and technology landscape now than when Congress passed the Act in 2005, and as a result there are real opportunities to make the Real ID application process much more efficient, while truly enhancing security,” Barnes said. “Without bold steps to educate the public about Real ID requirements and modernize the application process, tens of thousands could be turned away from boarding a flight next October 1.”

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has launched a toolkit for members to help navigate the transition to Real IDs. The kit includes a fact sheet, social media guide, sample disclaimer language and other resources. 

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