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SALT LAKE CITY — If you don’t yet have a license or ID card with a gold star in the corner, you have an extra year to make sure you get it.
“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,” acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said in a prepared statement Thursday.
The new deadline for obtaining a REAL ID with a gold star in the corner is Oct. 1, 2021 — a year after the original due date.
Because federal, state and local officials are working to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, the Trump administration extended the deadline to “remove any impediments to response and recovery efforts,” Wolf's statement reads. Departments of Motor Vehicles around the country are temporarily closed or restricting access, which could prevent some from applying for or obtaining their REAL ID.
“Extending the deadline will also allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes,” Wolf said.
If you don’t have a REAL ID by Oct. 1, 2021, however, you won’t be able to do things like board an airplane. Those who attempt to board a flight with a non-starred driver's license after October 2021 may be stopped by the Transportation Security Administration — though passports can still be used as ID for air travel.
But you don’t need to schedule a trip to the Driver License Division just yet. If your license expires after the original October 2020 deadline, the division has probably automatically mailed you — or will mail you — a new license with the gold star. That won't change because of the deadline extension, Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Nick Street said Friday.
You can check the status of your gold star license on the Department of Public Safety's website.
You should also make sure your address with the division is up to date. The Department of Public Safety has already had tens of thousands of IDs returned because they were sent to old addresses.
But updating your address won’t require a trip to the Driver License Division, either. Utah residents can do so on the state’s online driver’s license renewal website.
If you need to renew your license before the original October 2020 deadline, your new card will come with a gold star. Anyone who renewed or received their license after Feb. 3, 2019, also received a license with the gold star.
The new policy that requires REAL IDs came after a long-running dispute between Utah and the Department of Homeland Security to conform to the standards set by the department's Real ID Act, part of which requires a gold star to be printed on all licenses.
Utah lawmakers decided to push back against what they believed was an unfunded mandate from the federal government. The total cost of reprinting and sending out the IDs will be about $2.4 million.