Real ID worries for airports, DMV administrators as deadline approaches

Real IDs will be key for domestic air travel

As the October deadline for air travelers to present Real ID-compliant driver's licenses instead of regular licenses approaches, airports and DMV administrators worry that not enough Americans have made the switch or have the proper identification documents.

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The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees TSA, said Wednesday it would streamline the Real ID issuing process. But the measures may not be enough, Ian Grossman of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators told FOX Business.

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"The only piece that it provides potential efficiency is rather than the clerk scanning [the documents], they're pre-scanned," said Grossman, who is AAMVA's vice president of public affairs. "Is that helpful? Maybe. How much efficiency to the process it will add is unknown at this time."

This week, the Airports Council International-North America called for an extension of the Oct. 1 deadline.

Travelers run through an airport.

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"We have a potential crisis on our hands," ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke told FOX Business. "Just the fact we have 95 million Real ID drivers registered, that’s only a third to be realistic. Are we going to be able to get the other two-thirds registered between now and Oct.1?"

"The crisis is people will be turned away at the gate, and they’re not going to be happy about it," Burke said.

Passports, Global Entry cards and military ID are also sufficient for Americans wanting to fly domestically, but plenty of Americans don't have those documents, Burke pointed out.

DHS said it will do "everything it can" to get Americans Real ID-ready. The requirement stems from the Real ID Act that Congress passed 15 years ago.

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“Ensuring every state is REAL ID compliant by October is one of the Department’s top priorities," Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement Wednesday. "That is why we have solicited ideas, solutions and proposals from the public, private sector, state governments, and relevant associations in an effort to provide greater flexibility to states for faster, streamlined issuance of REAL IDs. While progress has been made, the real work is still ahead."

A nearly empty lobby at the North Terminal of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

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Some states, like North Carolina, have been issuing Real IDs for years. But only 48 out of 50 states have begun issuing Real IDs, DHS noted.

"Our big focus now is educating people if you have a passport don’t need a real ID," Steve Abbott, a spokesperson for the NC Department of Transportation, told FOX Business. "An extension would give us more time to educate residents."

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