UPDATED: License expiration dates pushed back amid coronavirus outbreak; Real ID deadline pushed to 2021

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Updated 1:25 p.m. March 26:

Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced March 26 the new deadline for U.S. residents to get a Real ID is now Oct. 1, 2021, a year past the previous deadline.

“Due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the national emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security, as directed by President Donald J. Trump, is extending the Real ID enforcement deadline beyond the current October 1, 2020 deadline," DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. "I have determined that states require a twelve-month delay and that the new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is October 1, 2021. DHS will publish a notice of the new deadline in the Federal Register in the coming days."

Original post: 4:58, March 26: REAL ID requirements, license expiration dates pushed back amid coronavirus outbreak

Drivers who have not yet applied for a REAL ID will have a while longer to get one following a deadline extension from the federal government.


The initial deadline for REAL ID—a new identification card with a small circle and star in the corner of the card—was Oct. 1. After that time, U.S. residents would not be allowed to fly domestically without it, unless they had another accepted form of identification, such as a passport. However, state officials are extending the deadline indefinitely as many residents have been asked to practice social distancing for the past few weeks.

Following an announcement from President Donald Trump on postponing the deadline, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee confirmed March 24 that Tennesseans will have more time to obtain a REAL ID, however an exact deadline has not yet been announced.

The state has temporarily stopped issuing REAL IDs but is expected to resume after May 18, barring any additional extensions. Lee also announced emissions testing requirements for vehicles will be extended through May 18 as well.

In addition to extending the REAL ID deadlines, all drivers licenses, learners permits and photo ID that were set to expire before May 19 will have a six-month extension to renew their licenses, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety. The TDS is also waiving requirements that drivers renewing their licenses appear in person to have a new photo taken; most can instead now renew online.

Any new residents—who would have previously been required to get a Tennessee driver’s license within 30 days of moving to the state—will now have until June 17.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.