PA REAL ID
*UPDATE – Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021
Beginning October 1, 2021, 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 domestic commercial flights
- enter a military base
- enter a federal facility that requires ID at the door
What is REAL ID?
The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, 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. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins on October 1, 2021.
When will REAL IDs be available in Pennsylvania?
REAL IDs are now available to Pennsylvanians who want them.
When do I need to get a REAL ID, if I don’t have a passport and want to us my PA driver’s license or ID card to board a domestic flight?
Beginning October 1, 2021, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant license, identification card or an acceptable alternative identification as approved by TSA (such as a passport) to board domestic commercial flights or enter a federal facility without a secondary form of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved identification.
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. Pennsylvania’s current extension lasts until August 1, 2019. The final REAL ID deadline – the date in which Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID or another acceptable alternative identification as approved by TSA (such as a passport), is October 1, 2021.
I have a valid passport. Do I need to get a REAL ID?
You certainly are welcome to get a REAL ID, but since your passport is sufficient identification to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a secure federal building after October 1, 2021, we recommend you wait until your license or ID card comes up for normal renewal and avoid the initial rush.
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.
Do I have to get a REAL ID?
No, REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You can 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 U.S. Passport or U.S. 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.
Why would I want a REAL ID?
A federally accepted identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, U.S. 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, 2021.
If you want to use your Pennsylvania driver’s license or photo ID as identification for these purposes, you may want to consider getting a REAL ID. If you know you will not be boarding a commercial flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base after October 1, 2021 or if you have a valid passport, you do not need a REAL ID.
Do I need a REAL ID to drive?
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.)
How much will the REAL ID cost?
You will pay a one-time fee of $30, plus a renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license or a photo ID). The expiration date of the initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on your current license or ID card, plus an additional four years, unless you are over 65 and have a two-year license.
This expiration date structure means that you won’t “lose” time that you’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.
If I’ve recently renewed my license, do I have to pay to renew my license and pay again to get a REAL ID?
It is optional and voluntary to change your current license to a REAL ID. However, if you choose to get a REAL ID when they are available, your REAL ID expiration date will reflect any remaining time on your current license, plus four years – you will not “lose” any time that you’ve already paid for.
Will my REAL ID license or ID card look different?
The visible difference is that a REAL ID-compliant product is marked with a gold star. REAL ID products are produced using the same security features as standard-issued products.
After March 2019, standard-issue, non-REAL ID driver’s licenses and ID cards will also look different. Per federal REAL ID regulations, non-REAL IDs must be clearly labeled with the words “Not for REAL ID Purposes.”
What documents will I need to obtain a REAL ID?
When you apply for a REAL ID, U.S. citizens will need to present original versions or certified copies (if applicable) of the following documents, per federal regulations. These documents can be taken to any PennDOT Driver License Center for verification:
- Proof of Identity
Examples: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised/embossed seal (not a sticker) or valid U.S. Passport
*Please note that hospital or commemorative certificates are not acceptable
- Proof of Social Security Number
Example: Social security card
*Please note that the name on your social security card MUST match the name on your proof of identity document
- Proof of all Legal Name Changes
Examples: Certified marriage certificate 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 U.S. Passport or U.S. 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, PA vehicle registration, auto insurance card, utility bill with the same name and address
I have a laminated social security card. Is this acceptable for REAL ID?
Yes, PennDOT will accept both unlaminated AND laminated social security cards for REAL ID.
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.
I have been married more than once. Do I need to show documentation of each name change?
If you have been married more than once, you need to show a marriage certificate that shows the transition between names. You do NOT need to show divorce paperwork UNLESS you returned to your maiden name.
If you have a passport in your current married name and you use it as your main identity document, you do NOT need to show documentation of name changes.
Will my child need a REAL ID to board a plane?
TSA does not currently require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.