Illinoisans have less than 6 months left to get their REAL ID

Illinoisans have less than 6 months left to get their REAL ID

Oct. 1 deadline looms even as five Chicago-area driver’s service centers have remained closed for a year and 1.2 million licenses and IDs have expired.

All that pent-up travel demand is breaking loose, with airlines and lodging seeing bookings rapidly increase, but Illinoisans won’t be able to fly using their driver’s licenses after Oct. 1 unless they have upgraded to the REAL ID.

That is increasing pressure on state driver’s license offices at the same time five Chicago-area locations have been closed for a year and as 1.2 million Illinoisans possess expired versions of the old licenses and IDs. Waits could increase as residents hustle to meet the Oct. 1 deadline. Before they were ordered closed in 2020, Illinois Secretary of State facilities had reported large crowds and long wait times.

In February, acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said two-thirds of Americans still had not gotten their ID upgraded, according to USA Today.

The REAL ID is a driver’s license or state ID that is compliant with the REAL ID Act Congress passed in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. All states are required to offer IDs upgraded to the new standard.

The REAL ID will be needed to fly domestically or visit military bases and other secure federal facilities. If you have a valid passport, you can use it for identification instead of a REAL ID.

The Illinois REAL IDs have a star in a gold circle at the top right corner to show they are federally compliant. You can still get a regular ID, but it will say “Federal Limits Apply” at the top and you will not be able to use it to fly or for the above-mentioned purposes.

You can learn more about the REAL ID here.

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