The clock is ticking on the Oct. 1 deadline for U.S. residents to get their REAL ID driver licenses and identification cards if they want to travel by air.
The Airports Council – North America, which represents commercial airports in the United States and Canada, has asked the federal government to extend the deadline amid concerns that two-thirds of driver’s licenses and identification cards held by Americans aren’t REAL ID-compliant.
Kevin M. Burke, the president and CEO of the airport industry trade group, warned of travel disruptions if the REAL ID deadline isn’t extended.
“If the government doesn’t make a definitive statement now that they’re going to extend this, then we’re going to have a real crisis on our hands come Oct. 1,” Burke told NBC News.
Data from the Department of Homeland Security shows states have issued more than 95 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards.
If travelers haven’t obtained them by Oct. 1, they won’t be able to board flights, and that could disrupt their lives and airline operations as well, Burke said.
The REAL ID law was passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Four pieces of identification are required to obtain a REAL ID: a passport or birth certificate, a Social Security card or tax return, and two documents proving proof of residence, such as a mortgage or rental receipt and a utility bill.
As the deadline looms, motor vehicle offices are scrambling to keep up with the number of people requesting the REAL IDs, the NBC News report said.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as a way to make airline travel safer. In addition to the stars on driver’s licenses, the cards themselves will be built with new technology, making them much more difficult to forge, according to the Department of Homeland Security.