What is the REAL ID Act?
The REAL ID Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005, was an attempt to create nationwide minimum standards for states to issue driver's licenses and ID cards. The law requires changes to state standards, procedures and requirements for the issuance of driver's licenses and identification cards, if they are to be accepted as identity documents by the federal government.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS) issued the final REAL ID regulations on Jan. 11, 2008. Under the final REAL ID regulations, only REAL ID-compliant driver's license and identification cards were to be accepted for official federal purposes, i.e. boarding a commercial aircraft, entering a nuclear power plant or federal facility that requires identification on or after the original full compliance deadline of May 11, 2008, unless states requested and were granted an initial extension by the U.S. DHS. Pennsylvania was granted an initial extension to complete an analysis of the final regulations and to determine whether the commonwealth would participate in REAL ID. This allowed Pennsylvania residents to continue using PA driver's licenses and identification cards as ID for official federal purposes through Dec. 31, 2009.
Pennsylvania requested and was granted a second extension in November 2009, which allowed Pennsylvania residents to continue using PA driver's licenses and identification cards as ID for official federal purposes, as defined above, to May 10, 2011.
In March 2011, the U.S. DHS announced that the deadline for full compliance with the REAL ID Act had been extended from May 10, 2011 to Jan. 15, 2013.
On May 8, 2012, Act 38 was signed into law and in part states "Neither the Governor nor the Department of Transportation or any other Commonwealth agency shall participate in the REAL ID Act of 2005 or regulations promulgated thereunder.
In December 2012, the U.S. DHS informed the commonwealth that enforcement of the REAL ID Act's statutory provisions have been postponed until fall 2013. DHS plans to publish this schedule in fall 2013, which means Pennsylvania residents can continue using their PA driver's licenses and identification cards as ID for official federal purposes through this date.
Regardless of what happens with REAL ID, Pennsylvania remains committed to continuously taking steps to enhance the security of its driver's license and identification card products, processes and systems to mitigate fraud and identity theft.