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Federal Government Tells Pennsylvania to Meet REAL ID Requirement or Face Restrictions on Residents Gaining Access to Federal Facilities


Harrisburg, PA – The Federal Department of Homeland Security has notified Pennsylvania that state residents will face new restrictions gaining admittance to federal facilities in January because Pennsylvania’s driver’s licenses and IDs are not in full compliance with federal REAL ID requirements. 

In 2012, Pennsylvania’s Legislature enacted Act 38, which bars the Governor or PennDOT from participating in REAL ID. The Department of Homeland Security had been granting states not in compliance a series of extensions, but announced in its Oct 11 letter to PennDOT that no further extensions will be granted unless there are new developments or information provided on why standards remain unmet and the reasons for continued noncompliance.
As a result, effective Jan. 30, 2017, Pennsylvania residents will need an alternative, secure form of identification to gain admittance to all federal facilities, military bases and nuclear power plants. The only exception is admittance to federal facilities for the purpose of applying for or receiving federal benefits. Each federal agency determines which secure identification it will accept.
DHS also pointed out that if Pennsylvania does not come into compliance by Jan 22, 2018 (or is not granted an extension), Pennsylvania residents will need to present an alternative form of identification acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration to board a commercial flight.
“PennDOT has always focused on providing a secure driver’s license and supporting process and we already have made additional improvements,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “In large measure, we are out of compliance for limited technical reasons and because existing state law bars us from fully complying. While we understand frustration with the cost of this unfunded federal mandate, our failure to comply because of the prohibition of current law will be a burden for Pennsylvanians.”
If the Legislature would agree to lift the compliance ban, PennDOT would need time to make significant additional system changes to accommodate a fully compliant REAL ID process.
Media contact: Rich Kirkpatrick, 717-783-8800