Harkins issues statement to resolve questions about REAL ID postponement

ERIE, July 8 – Seeking to clear up confusion over postponement of the REAL ID deadline, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement:

“I have been receiving a lot of calls from residents who have heard that the REAL ID enforcement deadline has been postponed to Oct. 1, 2021, but are confused about what this means and how it impacts them, so I am hoping to eliminate that confusion.

“In response to 9/11, the federal government passed the REAL ID Act to improve security and make it more difficult for terrorists or others intending harm to obtain a fake ID. The act tightened the requirements for getting a driver’s license or identification card that federal authorities would accept by requiring the person applying to meet a higher standard for showing proof of identity.

“States are still free to issue – and residents are still free to get – standard driver’s licenses and identification cards that are not based on those more rigorous proof requirements.

“Once enforcement of the act begins on Oct. 1, 2021, however, residents will no longer be able to use those standard licenses or ID cards as proof of identification for certain activities, including boarding a domestic commercial flight or visiting a military base or other high-security federal facility. Instead, people will have to present either a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, or will have to rely on a passport or other federally accepted ID.

“Postponement of the deadline – which was done when the pandemic forced closure of driver’s license centers statewide – simply means that card-based enforcement of the act won’t start until Oct. 1, 2021. Until then, people can continue using their standard state driver’s licenses or ID cards to board flights or visit military bases and other high-security federal buildings.

“I want to emphasize that getting a REAL ID is purely optional. Residents don’t need one to vote, apply for or receive federal benefits, gain access to hospitals and health clinics or visit regular-security federal buildings like the post office. For those who fly frequently, however, and want to continue using their driver’s license for identification, a REAL-ID compliant license or identification card may come in handy. 

“More information is available by visiting www.dmv.pa.gov and scrolling down to the REAL ID icon with the star. Residents should also feel free to call my office at (814) 459-1949 or email me at pharkins@pahouse.net with any questions or for help applying.”