Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID or passport to board a domestic commercial flight. (Image courtesy of the PA Dept. of Transportation)

Real ID Returns

The one-year countdown is on.

PennDOT has announced that it is resuming issuing Real IDs at reopened Driver License Centers throughout the state. And that means Pennsylvania residents are on the clock, so to speak.

PennDOT paused issuing Real IDs in March due to pandemic-related precautions. Similarly, the federal government pushed back the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline for Real ID enforcement to Oct. 1, 2021, in response to the Covid-19 national emergency declaration.

The aviation industry was almost universally concerned that travelers would not be able to secure the upgraded identification that would have been required to pass through airport security checkpoints this year. Add in a global pandemic, and the one-year delay announced on March 26 was welcomed with relief.

The new enforcement date of Oct. 1, 2021, gives travelers another 12 months to obtain a federally compliant identification that will allow them to board flights and enter certain federal buildings.

“Being prepared for the unexpected is now more important than ever,” said Debbie Bowman, executive director of the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania. “Emergencies do happen. After October 1, 2021, without a federal government-issued ID, or a Real ID, you won’t be able to board a plane. Be prepared. Get your Real ID today.”

Getting Real ID

Obtaining a Real ID card requires submitting an original birth certificate or passport, a Social Security card, proof of residency and documentation of any name changes. There is a one-time $30 fee in Pennsylvania.

Residents may apply online or in person at specially designated drivers license centers.

Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005, prompted by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to increase security measures for state-issued identification. The new cards are required for federal purposes; in addition to flights, you’ll need Real ID to enter federal buildings (excluding federal courts) or to gain entry to military bases.

U.S. passports will remain an acceptable form of Real ID-compliant identification even after next year’s deadline.

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