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Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2021, to May 7, 2025, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration. 

Beginning May 7, 2025, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license/photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

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REAL IDs are now available to Pennsylvanians who want them. This guide will help you decide if you need a REAL ID, and provide information on what documents you will need and steps you can take to get an optional REAL ID.

PennDOT does not have a process by which customers can pre-scan and upload REAL ID documents from home. In order to get a REAL ID, you must bring your documents to one of our Driver Licensing Centers for verification in person. For the safety of our customers’ identities, PennDOT will never ask for nor accept any identity documents over the internet for any reason. Any website claiming to provide this service is not affiliated with PennDOT. As such, customers should not submit any images of personal documents to such websites as they will not be transmitted to PennDOT and could be used for fraudulent purposes. Through our website, customers may apply for pre-verification if their documents are already on file with PennDOT, however, this process will not ask you to scan and upload documents.

What is REAL ID?

REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver's licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding a domestic commercial flight, or entering a military installation or federal facility that requires ID.

Beginning May 7, 2025, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant license/identification card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to:

  • Board domestic commercial flights.
  • Enter a military base.
  • Enter a federal facility that requires ID at the door.

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/identification card, or a standard driver’s license or identification card.

If you do not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally-acceptable identification (valid passport, military ID, etc.) to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities after May 7, 2025.

Applicable Uses Standard ID or Driver's License REAL ID ID/Driver's License
Driving (DL only)
General Identification Purposes
Boarding a Domestic (U.S.) Flight after May 7, 2025
Entering a Federal Facility (that requires ID) or Military Base✖️✔️

You do NOT need a REAL ID to:

  • Drive.
  • Vote.
  • Access hospitals.
  • Visit the post office.
  • Access federal courts.
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits, such as social security or veterans' benefits.

If you're not sure whether a REAL ID is right for you, our REAL ID online wizard may be able to help.

Prepare For REAL ID

Gather Your Documents

The best thing you can do to prepare for REAL ID is to get your documents together. Federal regulations require that PennDOT must verify original versions or certified copies of the following documents for a customer before issuing a REAL ID:

  • Proof of identity: 
    • An original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the state office of vital records with a raised/embossed seal — issued by an authorized government agency; or 
    • A valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or passport card.
  • Proof of Social Security Number - proof must display current legal name and full nine (9) digits of the Social Security Number: 
    • A Social Security card;
    • A W-2 form;
    • A SSA-1099 form;
    • A non-SSA-1099 form; or
    • A pay stub;
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address:  
    • A current, unexpired PA license or ID; or
    • A PA vehicle registration, auto insurance card or utility bill with the same name and address.
  • Proof of all legal name changes (if applicable): 
    • A certified marriage certificate, court order, or adoption decree issued by your county's family court.

If you are a lawfully present non-U.S. citizen, acceptable documents include:

  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Card (EAD) issued by DHS; Forms I-766 or Form 1-688B
  • Valid, Unexpired Permanent Resident Card I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Issued by DHS or INS
  • Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired U.S. visa affixed, and an I-94 indicating temporary evidence of permanent residence

Some non-U.S. citizens may be required to present additional documentation. Additional information for non-U.S. citizens can be found on PennDOT's REAL ID Information for non-U.S. Citizens page.

Learn more about REAL ID documentation requirements and download a printable document checklist on PennDOT’s REAL ID Document Check page.

Apply For Pre-Verification

Pre-Verify Online

If you received your FIRST Pennsylvania driver's license, learner's permit, or photo ID card AFTER September 1, 2003, PennDOT may already have your REAL ID documentation on file.

To find out if your required REAL ID documents are on file with PennDOT, apply for REAL ID pre-verification online.

If PennDOT confirms that your documents are on file, you can order your REAL ID online — no need to visit a driver's license center!

How To Get A REAL ID

Order REAL ID Online

Pre-verified customers may apply online and receive their REAL IDs in the mail within 15 business days.

Get REAL ID In-Person 

  • Visit any PennDOT REAL ID center to have your documents verified and imaged and receive your REAL ID at the time of service.
  • Visit any PennDOT Driver License Center to have your documents verified and imaged, and receive your REAL ID within 15 business days.

Click the buttons below to learn more about whether you need a REAL ID, what documents you will need and steps you can take now to prepare to get an optional REAL ID.