LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Californians panicked about obtaining a REAL ID can breathe easier after the federal government extended the deadline a full year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that the REAL ID deadline has been pushed to Oct. 1, 2021. The initial deadline had been Oct. 1, 2020. This comes after President Donald Trump indicated Monday that the deadline would be delayed.
Once the deadline is hit, REAL ID cards will required to board airplanes or enter federal buildings. U.S. residents who do not have a REAL ID will be required to show an alternative document, like a passport or military ID.
The California DMV has faced a surge of customers due to the new federal REAL ID requirements, with some residents having to make appointments several months out because DMV offices are fully booked. Last July, DMV offices for a half-day statewide so employees could be trained on handling REAL ID applications.
“The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline,” Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. “Our state and local partners are working tirelessly with the Administration to flatten the curve and, therefore, we want to remove any impediments to response and recovery efforts.
REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. In California, REAL IDs are marked by a gold bear and star.
Last week, California DMV offices temporarily changed their hours and policies to address the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hours are restricted to Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The DMV canceled behind-the-wheel drive tests.
Only customers whose transactions require an in-office visit will be allowed to come in, and they must have an appointment. Transactions that require an in-office visit include applications for REAL ID, drivers 70 years and older, anyone whose license was last renewed in-office 15 years prior, people who need to take a vision test, and those with a complex driving history.
The DMV says vehicle registration renewals, outdated insurance information, expired registration, smog issues and recent transfers can be taken care of online, by mail or on the phone.