The Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for REAL ID by 12 months to October 1, 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic—but will it be enough?
The U.S. Travel Association has praised the move, but cautioned that a longer extension for Americans to acquire a REAL ID may be necessary to ensure that implementation won’t further disrupt the already devastated American travel economy.
In a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, U.S. Travel cited polling data showing that the U.S. had not made significant strides toward compliance even before the coronavirus crisis. A new analysis compiled by U.S. Travel and Longwoods International, a market research consultancy, shows that if REAL ID were implemented today, an estimated 67,400 travelers would be turned away at airport security checkpoints on the first day, and more than 471,800 within the first week.
The latest compliance figures have not substantially changed from data U.S. Travel released last September. The finding comes despite steps by Department of Homeland Security to create greater flexibility in the REAL ID application process, and broad efforts among America’s travel industry to boost awareness among the traveling public.
The coronavirus crisis is a further game-changer.
“The already difficult task of bringing the country closer to REAL ID compliance is now clearly impossible due to the coronavirus crisis,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. “Over the next 18 months people will be focused on building their lives back, not going to the DMV. The economic damage of coronavirus is already massive, and as we move toward a recovery phase it would be awful if the REAL ID deadline hits and creates yet another obstacle to people traveling.”
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