McCarran, Airports Nationally See Real ID Implementation Delayed Again By Feds

Posted on: April 30, 2021, 12:54h. 

Last updated on: April 30, 2021, 01:59h.

Many Las Vegas airline passengers got a reprieve this week after federal officials chose to delay Real ID implementation by 19 months. The tougher national ID requirement was to go into effect in October. Now, it will be in force on May 3, 2023.

For most passengers, it will mean going to their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles office and getting a new driver’s license
US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas shown here. He announced this week the Real ID implementation date will be delayed again. (Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Previously, the implementation date was delayed last year. The requirement was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For most passengers, it will mean going to their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and getting a new driver’s license, which is similar to current licenses. It is just more difficult to copy or to tamper with the new ID than current driver’s licenses.

“This mandate is not good or bad for Las Vegas and Nevada,” Sergio Avila, a spokesman for the AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah told

This is simply something travelers need to be aware of. If travelers are able to obtain a Real ID, they should do so as soon as possible so they don’t have to worry about this mandate when it becomes effective,” Avila continued.

Nationally, only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently Real ID-compliant. Without the delay, there could have been a last-minute surge of applications at state DMV offices.

In announcing the delayed implementation, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement this week the pandemic “significantly impacted states’ ability to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity.”

Mayorkas said that extending the 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.”

But on 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, the statement adds. Passports are among the permitted documents.

Long lines at DMV offices due to COVID-related closures were largely the reason for the latest postponement. In recent months, many DMV offices extended deadlines for renewing driver’s licenses and opted for an appointment-only schedule during the pandemic. 

But, as of now, all 50 states are issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Electronic Submission

Also, the DHS and state agencies still need time to reduce processing time in the application process for Real IDs. They want to provide electronic submission of required supporting documents. Nevada, for instance, requires several documents to get the Real ID.

Congress passed The Real ID Act in 2005. It was largely a response to the terrorist acts on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Real ID is intended to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards while inhibiting the ability of terrorists and others to evade detection by using fraudulent identification,” TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers explained to earlier this month.

Number of McCarran Passengers Increasing

The ID requirement delay comes as the number of passengers using McCarran is expected to increase in the coming months, given the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Numbers dropped from the pandemic.

The airport saw 2.6 million passengers last month. That is a 25 percent jump over 2 million passengers in March 2020. It is 60 percent above 1.6 million passengers in February 2021, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, based on Clark County Department of Aviation data.