In the future, everyone who wants to enter a federal secured space – including the departure gates of commercial U.S. airports – will be required to have a state identification card that has been issued and printed under the strict guidelines set out by the federal REAL ID identification law. These cards are only given to people who present multiple documents at state drivers’ license offices to prove their identity. They can be easily identified by the white-star-in-gold-circle REAL ID logo printed in the upper right-hand corner. The State of Illinois has issued more than 3 million REAL ID cards to Illinois drivers and to holders of non-driver identification cards. A person does not have to drive in order to be eligible for REAL ID.
For several reasons, centering on the March 2020 outbreak of the pandemic phase of COVID-19, many Americans – including some people in Illinois – do not yet have REAL ID-compliant identification cards. In Illinois, retiring Secretary of State Jesse White has rolled over expiring Illinois drivers’ license cards several times, although as of December 2022 he has reopened all of Illinois’ drivers’ license offices and is no longer rolling over old cards. Non-REAL ID cards will, however, continue to be valid documents to enter federal secured spaces for a short additional period of time. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID deadline for an additional two years, from May 3, 2023 to May 3, 2025.