Oklahoma receives final REAL ID extension

Department of Homeland Security

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma has been granted one final extension to bring the state’s identification cards up to compliance with federal law.

Until Sept. 18, 2020, Oklahomans still will be able to use their state-issued identification to hop on planes and enter military bases or other federal facilities.

But once the extension expires, any Oklahomans without federally compliant ID who are trying to visit military bases or fly domestically will be turned away because their state identification won’t stand up to federal requirements adopted more than a decade ago.

Those without federally compliant cards will have to flash U.S. passports or another valid forms of federal ID if they want to access military bases and federal facilities, inside or outside the state.

As of Oct. 1, Oklahoma was one of three states that was not REAL ID compliant, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. New Jersey and Oregon also were granted extensions.

In a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt, the federal agency said it issued the extension because Oklahoma has indicated it will achieve full compliance with the federal REAL ID law by Aug. 30, 2020.

“I strongly recommend that Oklahoma submit its compliance certification materials to DHS as soon as possible after Oklahoma believes it has satisfied REAL ID requirements in order to provide sufficient time for DHS to complete its compliance determination review,” wrote Elizabeth Neumann, an assistant secretary, in a letter.

Neumann said the federal agency is requiring the state participate in quarterly reviews to demonstrate “its progress in implementing” any remaining requirements. Come Oct. 1, 2020, federal agencies will only accept state licenses and identification cards that are in compliance with the federal law, she said.

“The Department of Public Safety and its new leadership are working quickly and effectively to update systems and take the necessary steps to implement REAL ID,” Stitt said in a statement. “This will be the final extension needed for our state to become fully compliant with federal law, as Oklahoma is set to begin issuing the updated IDs later next year. We are prioritizing this project in order to ensure our citizens can continue to use their Oklahoma licenses to travel seamlessly across the U.S. and enter federal facilities.”

He said the implementation also will ensure Oklahoma remains competitive, can attract new business and retain residents.

Oklahoma lawmakers long bucked the REAL ID law — even going so far as to pass a law prohibiting the Department of Public Safety, which oversees driver licenses, from complying with it. Signed by President George W. Bush in 2005 after 9/11, the federal law seeks to fortify state procedures to confirm people’s identities and to ensure that states are not giving licenses to terrorists.

Under Oklahoma’s law, lawmakers also allow the option to decline a federally compliant ID card.

Neumann said state leaders should begin informing residents that those noncompliant cards can’t be used to fly domestically.

"We know Oklahomans are anxious for our state to become REAL ID compliant,” said John Scully, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, in a statement. “Achieving this goal is the No. 1 priority of DPS.”

He said the department is on track to begin issuing REAL IDs starting April 30.

At that point, officials say Oklahomans will be able to receive them either at a Department Public Safety office or a local tag agency.

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