Many Seattleites were dreading the prospect of standing in line at the Department of Licensing this year to make sure their IDs were compliant with the federal REAL ID act by the Oct. 1 deadline.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for full REAL ID compliance by a year. Adults aged 18 and older now have until Oct. 1, 2021, to ensure their driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant, or acquire another accepted form of identification — like a passport — in order to fly within the United States.

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The REAL-ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, prohibiting federal agencies, including the TSA, from accepting state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards that do not meet the established minimum security standards.

President Donald Trump announced the deadline extension on Monday, citing an intention to encourage social distancing by ensuring applicants are not waiting in lines and crowded wait rooms at their local departments of motor vehicles (DMV).

The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) is open and has expanded online application services. But it is only accepting in-person REAL-ID applications, and these are by appointment only.

Some in the air travel industry, seeing a huge drop in customers, have expressed relief as well.

“The already difficult task of bringing the country closer to REAL ID compliance is now clearly impossible due to the coronavirus crisis,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow in a statement on Monday. “We’ve asked DHS that the delay of the REAL ID enforcement deadline remain in place until the current economic environment improves and DHS can certify that access to air travel will not be negatively impacted after REAL ID enforcement begins.”

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