In this Dec. 2, 2020, file photo, Shenna Bellows is seen at the Augusta Civic Center. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine’s secretary of state said Wednesday that residents will benefit from a federal extension of the Real ID enforcement deadline.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. The change came following a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday extended the Real ID deadline by 19 months until May 3, 2023. That’s because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said the change will “give Mainers more time to consider this identification option before it impacts their ability to travel or access federal facilities.”

Maine was the first state to opt out of the Real ID program, but then began issuing the IDs years later. Starting on May 3, 2023, travelers will need the Real ID or another federally issued ID document “to access all federally regulated airports, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants,” Bellows’ office said in a statement.