OK, relax: Feds now say Minnesota has until 2018 to comply with Real ID


After all the soft deadlines and warning about Minnesota driver's licenses not being good enough to get on an airplane, the deadline to actually comply with new federal Real ID standards is months away.

The Department of Homeland Security said Friday afternoon that it won't enforce the Real ID standards at airports until Jan. 22, 2018.

So you'll be able to use any driver's license/state ID to get a commercial domestic flight up until that point.

Starting that date, state IDs that don't meet Real ID requirements will not be accepted by TSA when boarding a commercial domestic flight – instead you'll need something like a passport to get onboard.


So how does this affect Minnesota?

Well, a big chunk of the wrangling over whether lawmakers need to call a special session was because Minnesota's driver's licenses and IDs are not compliant.

Lawmakers have to repeal a 2009 law that prohibits the state from complying before they can start passing laws that make the state's IDs compliant. Some argued that should be done as soon as possible, in a special session, with the looming threat of Minnesotans having an extra hurdle at the airport hanging over the state's collective head.


Others countered that Homeland Security said it would give 120 days' notice at least, so it could happen during the March regular session.

With Friday's announcement though, the state's top officials have a firm, and relatively far-off deadline to deal with.


"Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents," Homeland Security says in the news release.

Explain the Real ID Act

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 and went into effect in 2008, as a way to increase security and deter identity fraud in a post-9/11 world. The law requires all state identification cards to have a minimum set of requirements.

But Minnesota lawmakers were so concerned about privacy questions that in 2009, they passed a law prohibiting the state from upgrading its driver’s licenses to comply with Real ID.

As of right now, a current Minnesota driver’s license won’t get you into certain federal facilities or nuclear power plants. In two years, that license will no longer be acceptable identification to get on a commercial airline flight either, per Friday's announcement.

Minnesota is the only state that currently isn’t compliant, and also didn’t get an extension to comply.

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Minnesota gets extension on Real ID – until January

That's when Real ID law goes into full effect.