Due to the Coronavirus outbreak the enforcement of the REAL ID Act of 2005 has been extended until October 1, 2021. Department of Defense installations will no longer accept non-compliant driver’s licenses after this date.
Currently there are only two states who are still in a non-compliant status: Oregon and Oklahoma. Additionally American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands IDs are under review according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Here’s what you need to know if you happen to be a resident of one of those states or territories.
Why is This Happening?
This ban on IDs is a consequence of the REAL ID Act of 2005, a post 9/11 set of legislation. Because most of the terrorists involved in the attacks on 9/11 had acquired driver’s licenses from either Florida or Virginia, Congress decided to tighten the security around the ID issuance processes and require more documentation of applicants who wish to get a driver’s license.
Essentially, the REAL ID Act was intended to prevent any future terrorists from being able to acquire a valid form of ID with which they could use to commit terrorist acts.
New ID Card Standards
Now, due to the REAL ID Act of 2005, in order for ID cards to be in compliance with new regulations, they must have specific security features to prevent any tampering, counterfeiting, or attempts at duplication. The new REAL ID Act compliant licenses must also show its information in a common, machine-readable format.
It’s the REAL ID Act of 2005, So Why Now?
Washington D.C. has delayed full implementation of this policy for years, but the Department of Homeland Security is now pressuring states to comply with the REAL ID Act. As of right now, 52 states and territories are fully compliant with the REAL ID requirements. Two states have been granted exemptions until later this year, Oregon and Oklahoma, with American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands still under review.
What Does This Mean?
In the DoD’s own words, “All federal agencies including the DoD must comply with the law regarding the use of REAL IDs for official purposes.” Basically, this means that a REAL ID compliant form of identification is necessary for any individual to gain access to all DoD installations, federal facilities or property, nuclear power plants, or when boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
Who Does This affect?
The Pentagon estimates that 20 DoD installations across the armed forces are affected by this new policy. But this policy also affects anyone, without a REAL ID compliant form of ID, who needs to gain physical access to a base.
Let’s say, for example, that you need to get a visitor’s pass because you lost your military ID card and you need to replace it. If your only other form of identification is an ID from a non-compliant state, then you would have to present an alternative form of ID which falls under REAL ID guidelines, or you would have to be escorted on base at all times by a compliant ID holder (a friend, spouse, or family member with a military ID for example).
Are There Any Exceptions?
It’s important to note that there are exceptions to the rules, within the implementation of the REAL ID Act. Any individual who holds a non-compliant ID, but has a life or safety issue and needs immediate access to federal facilities for medical emergencies, would be allowed entry. Also, anyone who needs physical access to federal property in order to apply for benefits will also be granted entry.
The Department of Homeland Security has said enhanced driver’s licenses (EDL) from non-compliant states will be accepted and are clear to use as acceptable identification. A few bases, such as the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, have stated that they will accept a military or draft record, a Social Security card, a State Department-issued Certification of Birth Abroad, a U.S. Citizen ID card or a Resident Citizen ID for unchaperoned access to their base.
Also, according to the DoD, “DoD policy allows commanders to waive the DoD access control requirements for special situations, circumstances, or emergencies. Therefore, installations may authorize other alternatives to facilitate installation access, such as a graduation ceremony guest list, escorts, etc.”
So, if you’re holding a wedding, graduation, or any other ceremony on federal property, your guest list will most likely be able to attend without issue, since you will be accompanying them. To avoid the possibility of any problems, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that any civilians in your family have an alternate, compliant form of ID, such as a passport if they need to receive a visitor’s pass to access the base.
What Are Individuals With Non-Compliant IDs Allowed to Use?
Individuals from those states and territories who need to enter into DoD installations must now show an alternate form of identification, such as:
- Federal Identification Cards (PIC)
- Transportation Worker Identification Card;
- United States Passport or United States Passport Card
- Permanent Resident Card/Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551)
- Foreign passport with a temporary (I-551) stamp or temporary (I-551) printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa
- an employment authorization document that contains a photograph (Form I-766)
- ID card issued by Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies (must contain photo, name, DOB, gender, height, eye color & address)
- S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Legacy Cards
- S. Coast Guard New Merchant Mariner Credential
- Native American Tribal Document
What are Future Consequences of the REAL ID Act?
As of right now, the Department of Homeland Security is only enforcing the REAL ID act for access to Department of Defense installations, as well as nuclear power plants, and other federal properties but these strict ID guidelines will eventually apply to air travel as well.
Unless the DHS decides suddenly to do away with the REAL ID act guidelines, by October 21, 2021, any non-compliant ID holders will be unable to board a federally regulated aircraft. This stipulation alone will be enough to force the non-compliant states to take immediate action to comply with the new regulations.
Image credit: U.S. Army IMCOM