On September 28, 2009, DHS again extended the deadline for states to request an exemption from compliance with the REAL ID regulations, this time from October 11, 2009 to December 1, 2009. The REAL ID Act of 2005 prohibits Federal agencies from accepting a driver's license or personal identification card for any official purpose unless the license or card has been issued by a State meeting the requirements of the Act. In 2008, all States requested an extension of the original May 11, 2008 compliance date, and are now required to comply by January 1, 2010 unless an additional extension is requested by the new deadline. REAL ID requires the use of digital photographs, signatures and machine readable features such as a bar code on all licenses and cards. States must also access Federal databases to check identity and legal status prior to issuing a license or card, and electronically share personal information with all other States.

Many States have indicated that they will be unable to comply with REAL ID, claiming, among other things, that the requirements are largely ineffective and too costly to implement without any federal funding. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who had been critical of the REAL ID as Governor of Arizona, has been supportive of recent legislation that would repeal those provisions of REAL ID which are most objectionable to States, and provide some federal funding for implementation of the essential security upgrades that would still be required.