Homeland Security Seeks to Move REAL ID Application Process Online

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to automate some aspects of the REAL ID application process ahead of the federal government’s deadline on October 1, 2020, according to a recent request for comment published in the Federal Record.

The DHS confirmed that it’s “interested in concepts that reduce application burden, processing time, and administrative workload, and that effectively ensure security, protect privacy, and manage risk of fraud.”

“We are also interested in concepts that identify the extent to which the additional capabilities or technologies will increase the adoption rate of individuals obtaining REAL ID-compliant identification,” the comment reads. In addition, we are interested in any cost data on the purchase, installation, or implementation of these concepts.”

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting a state issued driver’s license or ID card for offiical purposes unless the state is meeting minimum security requirements in the Act and implementing regulations.

Beginning October 1, 2020, travelers attempting to fly without federally compliant IDs will be turned away at TSA checkpoints.

The DHS’ desire to move parts of the application process online has been met with praise from the U.S. Travel Association, which stated that the “DHS initiative that could allow states to move more of the REAL ID application process online is one that we have been advocating for and believe could greatly mitigate challenges we will otherwise face next year.”

“We appreciate the good work of the Department of Homeland Security for taking this important step to prepare the country for the 2020 REAL ID deadline,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes in a statement on Friday. “It is a much different security and technology landscape now than when Congress passed the Act in 2005, and as a result there are real opportunities to make the REAL ID application process much more efficient, while truly enhancing security.”

“Our research shows that 99 million Americans do not have a REAL ID license or passport, which could mean significant headaches at DMVs—including long lines and wait times throughout the next year,” added Barnes. “Without bold steps to educate the public about REAL ID requirements and modernize the application process, tens of thousands could be turned away from boarding a flight next October 1.”

“This is one of several policy recommendations we believe are critical as we approach the REAL ID implementation deadline of October 1, 2020, and we look forward to working with Congress and the administration to move this forward.”

Currently, 47 of the 50 states are compliant with the REAL ID requirements. Oregon and Oklahoma have received an extension while New Jersey remains under review.

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