South Carolina residents will be needing Real ID Act-compliant licenses to fly on airplanes, enter federal buildings or go into military bases. It is only because of the pandemic that the requirement is not in effect now.

In March 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would extend the enforcement date of the Federal Real ID Act of 2005 from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic. But with agencies such as the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles having had limited and/or altered operations for a large time during 2020 and into 2021, 3-1/2 months is a short time to get millions signed up for Read ID. It’s the same situation in other states.

Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas has announced that DHS is extending the Real ID full-enforcement date by 19 months to May 3, 2023, due to circumstances surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Protecting the health, safety and security of our communities is our top priority,” Mayorkas said. “As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the Real ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card.”

Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel. All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four of five U.S. territories covered by the Real ID Act and related regulations are now compliant with Real ID security standards and are issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards.

But only 43% of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently Real ID-compliant, according to DHS, which says the agency and various states need more time to implement requirements mandated by the REAL ID Modernization Act, including changes that will streamline processing by allowing the electronic submission of certain documents.

In South Carolina, the warning from SCDMV has been that less than half of those eligible would have Real ID ahead of October 201. So the extra 19 months stands to be beneficial in helping the agency deal with getting more people signed up without a crushing number descending on SCDMV offices.

To obtain a Real ID at any SCDMV office at a cost of $25, a person needs to provide:

• A government-issued birth certificate or U.S. passport.

• Proof of Social Security number.

• Two proofs of current S.C. address.

• Records of any name changes.

South Carolina and other states fought the Real ID mandate for years. But in spring 2017, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered that South Carolina comply with the law and begin issuing Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the federal standard.

Not long after, the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles started accepting identity documents for people interested in purchasing the new style of license or ID.

By the end of 2020, SCDMV had issued more than 1.2 million Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards, but there are more than 3 million licensed drivers in the state. There’s lots of work to do.

According to DMV, there are 350,000 people eligible to buy their REAL ID license online because all of their documents are already on file. Find out if you are one of them at

The Real ID deadline has been extended but making the new form of identification a priority on your to-do list now will save time and ultimately aggravation in the future – for you and SCDMV.

— The Times & Democrat of Orangeburg