SPRINGFIELD — State officials said current Illinois driver's licenses and identification cards will still get people onto airlines after Oct. 10, when the state's latest extension to comply with the federal Real ID act ends.
Henry Haupt, spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White, said Illinois residents should not see any disruption in access to air travel next month, even though the state is still not fully in compliance with the Real ID law.
"We've been assured by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Illinois driver's licenses and ID cards will continue to be accepted for domestic air travel after Oct. 10," Haupt said. "People do not have to worry."
Last year, the secretary of state's office sought an extension from Homeland Security to comply with the law and received it.
"Illinois has an extension for REAL ID enforcement, allowing federal agencies to accept driver's licenses and identification cards from Illinois at Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft until October 10, 2018," the DHS web site says.
Although the state is still not fully compliant with the law, it has made progress. Two years ago, the state completely overhauled the way licenses and ID cards are issued. They are no longer issued over the counter, but rather are issued through a central distribution center to enhance security. That also enabled the office to embed security features in the licenses and IDs themselves.
Haupt said Illinois will be fully compliant next year.
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"It is our anticipation to begin issuing Real ID complaint driver's licenses and ID cards sometime next spring to residents who want them," he said.
Illinois passed a law last year that allows Illinois residents to choose between a fully Real ID compliant license or an ordinary license. To obtain the fully compliant version, a resident must provide multiple forms of identification such as a certified copy of a birth certificate or valid U.S. passport, proof of a Social Security number and two documents that prove current residency.
If a person doesn't need a Real ID, they can avoid that by simply obtaining a standard license or ID.
"Not everybody is going to want or need a Real ID," Haupt said. "If you don't fly, if you don't visit military bases or secure federal facilities you don't necessarily need a Real ID license or identification card. It's so much simpler to obtain a regular card."
Although the state plans to start issuing Real ID licenses and cards next year, there doesn't have to be a rush to obtain one, even among regular fliers. Haupt said that once the state is determined to be in compliance with the Real ID law, the deadline for actually having a Real ID license or ID card moves to October 2020.
Haupt said the state plans to apply for full compliance shortly.
More than 30 states are deemed in compliance with the Real ID act. Others are seeking further extensions. Missouri was granted an extension Wednesday.