The Department of Homeland Security announced April 27 that the Real ID enforcement deadline is now extended to May 3, 2023.

The 19-month extension is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on U.S. citizens’ ability to obtain a Real ID-compliant credential during the past year. The full statement is available on the DHS website, dhs.gov/real-id.

“We welcome this extension,” Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in the release, “as it will give Mainers more time to consider this identification option before it impacts their ability to travel or access federal facilities.”

The “Real ID” is a version of your Maine driver’s license or state ID that is compliant with federal standards for identity documents. All Real ID-compliant credentials have a version of a gold star on the face of the card; in Maine, it is a gold state of Maine outline with a white star cutout in the center.

The Real ID-compliant credential is optional for Mainers. However, beginning May 3, 2023, those who have only a standard Maine license or state ID will not be able to use it as identification for federal purposes, such as boarding a commercial aircraft.

While the standard Maine credential is valid for all in-state purposes, as of May 3, 2023, travelers will need a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, a Real ID-compliant state ID, or a valid U.S. passport, passport card or other federally issued identity document to access all federally regulated airports, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants.

Mainers can obtain a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or state ID at any Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, all of which are open to the public without appointment. For more information about Real ID in Maine, including a checklist of the necessary documents to obtain the credential, visit maine.gov/realid.

Those who choose to retain a non-compliant Maine license or ID card can also find information about alternative forms of ID for federal purposes at tsa.gov. Those who prefer to obtain a passport or passport card in lieu of a Real ID-compliant Maine credential should plan on processing times of approximately 10 weeks for U.S. passports.