frequently asked questions - real id
Updated October 18, 2017
The REAL ID Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005, requires changes to state standards, procedures and requirements for the issuance of driver's licenses and identification cards, if they are to be accepted as identity documents by the federal government. This page is updated frequently - please check back often for additional information as is becomes available.
- What is REAL ID?
The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after
9/11 that establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued
driver's licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like
entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight.
- Pennsylvania has been granted an extension to the REAL ID Act through October 10, 2018. What does that mean?
The extension means that current PennDOT-issued driver's
licenses and identification cards can be used to enter federal facilities
and board domestic commercial flights through October 10, 2018.
- Can I board a plane with the license I have now?
Yes. Current PennDOT-issued driver's licenses and identification
cards will remain acceptable identification for boarding domestic commercial flights as long as an extension is in place. PennDOT's current extension lasts until October 10, 2018.
- What happens after 2020?
Beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL
ID-compliant license, identification card or an acceptable alternative identification as approved by TSA to board domestic commercial flights or enter a federal facility without a secondary
form of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved identification.
- What is PennDOT’s plan to ensure that Pennsylvania is compliant with REAL ID regulations?
PennDOT is working to develop a deployment plan that will make REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards available to Pennsylvania residents by Spring 2019.
- Why did PennDOT wait so long to begin the REAL ID process?
Until May 2017, Pennsylvania law prohibited PennDOT from
complying with the federal REAL ID Act. Act 3 of 2017 repealed this prior
legislation and allowed PennDOT to seek REAL ID compliance. Preliminary work
has begun and PennDOT anticipates that REAL ID-compliant documents will be
available at the customer’s option by Spring 2019.
- I just renewed my license and got the newly-designed version. Is this a REAL ID?
No. Periodic design and security updates are
standard business practice for PennDOT, and it was in the best interest of our
customers to continue that important work despite prior legislation prohibiting
REAL ID compliance.
- Will the non-REAL ID driver's license or identification card be less secure?
processes and procedures required by DHS to issue a REAL ID card differ from standard-issued
cards, the non-REAL ID cards will be produced using the same security
- Why would I want a REAL ID?
A federally accepted identification (whether it’s a
Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, US
Passport/Passport Card, military ID, etc.) must be used as your identification
to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building on and after
October 1, 2020.
- Do I have to get a REAL ID?
No, REAL ID is
optional for Pennsylvania residents. You will be able to get either a REAL ID
driver's license or identification card, or a standard driver's license or identification
card. If you have a valid
US Passport or US Passport Card, military ID, or another federally approved
identification, you may use this as your form of identification to pass a TSA
checkpoint at airports nationwide and visit a secure federal building or
military installations at any time.
If you know you will
not be boarding a commercial flight or visiting a secure federal facility or
military base, you do not need a REAL ID.
You do not need
a REAL ID driver's license or identification card to do any of the following:
- Apply for or receive federal benefits for which you are entitled (Veterans' Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
- Enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (i.e. a post office)
- Access a hospital or receive life-saving services
- Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (serve on a federal jury, testify in federal court, etc.)
- When can I get the REAL ID license or ID card?
The REAL ID license and ID card will be available to
customers in Spring 2019. System, building infrastructure and process changes
will be necessary for Pennsylvania to issue REAL ID-compliant cards.
How much will a REAL ID cost?
There will be a one-time fee at the time of issuance to
obtain a REAL ID. The fee amount has not yet been determined. Customers with
REAL IDs will pay the standard renewal fee – there is no additional fee to
renew a REAL ID.
- If my driver’s license expires before REAL IDs are available, do I have to pay to renew my license and pay again to get a REAL ID?
Yes. You must renew
your driver’s license when it expires – do not drive with an expired license.
It will be optional and voluntary to change your current license to a REAL ID.
- Will my REAL ID license or photo ID look different?
The visible difference will be that a REAL ID-compliant
product will be marked with a gold star.
- What documents will I need to obtain a REAL ID?
When you apply for a REAL ID (which will not be available until 2019), you will need to present original versions or certified copies of the following documents, per federal regulations:
- Proof of Identity
- Examples: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal or valid US Passport
- Proof of Social Security Number
- Examples: Social security card or W-2 Form that has your social security number and name and your employer's name
*Please note that social security card cannot be laminated or sealed in plastic.
- Proof of all Legal Name Changes
- Examples: Marriage license or court order issued by your county's family court
*Please note: You must show a complete name change history that links your birth certificate name to your current name. If you have a valid US Passport or US Passport Card with your legal name, you may use that as your name change document.
- Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address
- Examples: Current, unexpired PA license or ID and a no more than 90-day-old bank statement or utility bill with the same name and address
- I don’t have my birth certificate. What do I do?
If you do not have your birth certificate in your possession, you need
to contact your state or county Department of Health office in the state of your
birth and request an original or certified copy. Some states may take up to six months to process duplicate birth
certificates, so it is advisable to begin this process right away.
• View information for the Department of Vital Records at the PA Department of Health
• View contact information for health departments in other states
- What if my name, date of birth or gender designation is different from what is on my birth certificate or legal status document?
If your current legal name, date of birth or gender designation is different from the information on your birth certificate or legal status document, you must show legal proof of the change. Acceptable documents supporting a change include:
- Name change or date of birth:
- Marriage license or divorce decree
- Court order approving a change of legal name or date of birth
- Original or certified copy of an amended birth certificate showing a change of name
- Gender designation:
- A certified, amended birth certificate with a raised seal
- A completed DL-32 form signed by a physician
Will my child need a REAL ID to board a plane?
The TSA does not currently
require children under 18 to have a REAL ID when flying with an adult who has a
- Where can I learn more about REAL ID?
To learn more about REAL ID, visit the Department of
Homeland Security’s website.
- Do I need to worry about this now?
All Pennsylvania licenses and identification cards are
currently acceptable for REAL ID purposes, however, PennDOT advises customers
who may want to obtain a REAL ID to get their required documents in order as
soon as possible. PennDOT will communicate any new information about REAL ID
with customers as soon as it becomes available.
If you already have a U.S. Passport or Passport Card and
want a REAL ID, we recommend that you wait until your next renewal to obtain
one and avoid the initial rush.