DHS ID card rule could bar some visitors from federal buildings

Visitors to federal facilities and military bases must now have identification cards from states that adopted REAL ID standards to be admitted.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that starting Oct. 10, visitors to government property must have identification from states meeting minimum security requirements to enter everything from federal office buildings to nuclear power plants.

New York, Minnesota, Louisiana and American Samoa are the only jurisdictions not in compliance with REAL ID standards.

Those outlier states have a three-month grace period before federal building staff begin enforcing the new rule. The federal government will announce which states get further extensions in the coming days.

Visitors to federal buildings only have to be from a state that has adopted REAL ID standards and will not be required to actually switch personal identification cards to REAL ID compliant cards until 2020.

Identification from states with REAL ID standards will eventually be required to board commercial aircraft.

A statement from DHS said the new requirement does not yet affect identification shown at airports.

“Until announced otherwise, the Transportation Security Administration will continue to accept valid driver’s licenses issued by all states,” the Oct. 9 release states.

DHS plans to announce the schedule for changes to air travel requirements by the end of the year. Passengers will be notified at least 120 days before the transition happens.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, as a way to set minimum security standards for the issuing of identification. The 9/11 Commission made the recommendation for a more secure state-issued identification.

Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia have switched to REAL ID standards.

DHS created an enforcement plan for REAL ID standards in 2013 that served as the “stick” to get states to move forward, said Andrew Meehan, policy analyst for Keeping IDentities Safe.

Since then, 11 of the 15 noncompliance states and territories have fallen into line.

REAL ID standards require multiple layers of identity verification when someone applies for an identification card like a driver’s license.

“The REAL ID standards are holistic and cover every part of the process,” Meehan said.

The standards require that documents used for identification cards be verified by the issuing agency. For instance, if someone uses a passport to prove their identity when applying for a driver’s license, the motor vehicle administration will verify that passport with the State Department.

Employees of the states’ motor vehicle departments must go through background checks. States must also explain the overt, covert and forensic fraud protection mechanisms of the identification cards to DHS.

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