The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID application deadline until Oct. 1, 2021 — a year after the original mandate was to be enforced, the agency said.
Given the state of emergency throughout the United States, as part of measures to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, DHS decided to push off the date to apply for driver ‘s license and conventional identification in the Real ID format.
States across the country, including Puerto Rico are temporarily closing or restricting access to motor vehicle department agencies, which will prevent people from applying for and receiving their REAL ID.
“Extending the deadline will also allow DHS to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes,” said DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico State Department Secretary Elmer L. Román said “The Real ID Act enacted in 2005, raised security standards and authentication of citizens in issuing driver’s licenses. The direct benefit for citizens is that they can use the Real ID as an official identification at airports when traveling to the United States [mainland].”
The Real ID format was implemented in 2005 as part of efforts to strengthen security and integrity of identity documents in the United States and its territories, both in the fight against terrorism, and to prevent fraud.
He added that “this ensures that Puerto Rico abides by security elements in citizen identifications and in the fight against fraud and identity theft, a criminal act that must be fought to protect citizens.”
While the extension is necessary, it is not “an invitation to leave the request for license or an identification in Real ID format to the last minute,” said Department of Transportation and Public Works Secretary Carlos Contreras.
“As soon as operations restart at the Drivers Services Centers (CESCO, in Spanish), people should take all the necessary steps to get their Real ID,” Contreras said.