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Homeland Security extends deadline to get Real ID until May 3, 2023

The Department of Homeland Security announced an extension of the deadline for US citizens to take domestic flights or visit restricted federal facilities without the need for a Real ID from Oct. 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023.

After 9/11, the federal government implemented stricter regulations for the issuance of identification documents, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses, in all jurisdictions. These standards set minimum requirements for the secure issuance and production of driver’s licenses and identification cards by the state, known as Real ID.

However, Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP, in Spanish) Secretary Eileen M. Vélez-Vega, urged Puerto Rico residents to apply for and get theirs with time, and to not wait until the last minute.

Vélez-Vega made the call jointly with Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Executive Director Carmen M. Feliciano, saying “people don’t have to wait until their licenses expire to make the change to Real ID, nor do they have to wait until May 2023.”

“They can make an appointment as early as now through the ‘CESCO Citas’ system, either by using the CESCO Digital mobile app or by logging on to cesco.turnospr.com and renewing their driver’s license to comply with the Real ID format,” the government officials said.

“We urge citizens not to leave this matter for the last minute. While it is true that for domestic flights — meaning between Puerto Rico, the 50 states, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands — you can do so with your driver’s license, it is also true that in some states there have been reports of car rental dealers, for example, not renting to you if you do not have a license in Real ID format,” Vélez-Vega said.

“To avoid mishaps, we invite you not to leave it to the last minute to change or apply for your license or ID in Real ID format,” she added.

Meanwhile, Feliciano also said that the Real ID does not replace a passport if a person wants to travel somewhere outside the US. A passport or identification card issued by the US Department of State will always be required.

“While we urge citizens to apply for and obtain their Real ID, it is important to emphasize that this law is voluntary,” she said.

“However, without it, they will not be able to take domestic flights or visit federal facilities. If the person believes they will never take a domestic flight, doesn’t plan to visit restricted federal facilities, or is under 15 years of age, they don’t need a Real ID,” she said.

A person’s current driver’s license will continue to be valid for all official transactions in Puerto Rico, including driving a motor vehicle, said Vélez-Vega.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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