You won’t be able to use your current New Jersey driver’s license as identification at airports for very long. But you do have more time now that the REAL-ID deadline for compliance has been extended a year.

New Jersey has gotten an extension for REAL ID enforcement that will allow federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from New Jersey at federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft until Oct. 10, 2019, according to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

The previous deadline was Wednesday. The extension was granted because the MVC has demonstrated to the US Department of Homeland Security that New Jersey is on track for implementation, said Jim Hooker, an MVC spokesman.

“There are various computer systems upgrades under way to ensure the smooth rollout, including some that increase reliability, some that improve customer flow, and the addition of online services so that fewer people will need to visit our brick & mortar agencies,” Hooker said.

MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton has said New Jersey expects to begin the phase-in to REAL ID during the first quarter of next year, though she didn’t provide specifics.

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If New Jersey hadn’t been granted an extension, then current state driver’s licenses would not be a valid form of identification at any federal facility, including military bases, or for going through security at airports.

“We are planning system upgrades that will improve service to New Jersey drivers in advance of the REAL ID implementation, and thus have requested the additional extension,” Fulton said.

The phase-in could likely be similar to what’s going on Pennsylvania, where residents can bring their REAL-ID documentation into any PennDOT driver license center for pre-verification.

There, once REAL-IDs debut in March 2019, customers who have been pre-verified can apply for their new ID online and will not have to return to the dreaded driver license center.

New Jersey has had a few extensions already, and could still yet ask for another one next year. The hard deadline for compliance is Oct. 1, 2020, meaning that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is not expected to grant extensions after that.

New Jersey has needed delays largely because it has been making system technology improvements to meet requirements of the REAL ID act. Those steps have included:

  • Allowing more than nine characters of a name to be included on a license; and
  • Requiring people to have their photos taken immediately upon reaching the counter for a new license.

The 2005 Real ID act imposes stronger requirements for proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes. The law was passed in response to national security concerns after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to the reports.

States originally were supposed to comply with the Real ID requirements by the end of 2009, but federal authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation to give time for states to change their driver’s license procedures and make the necessary technological modifications.