REAL ID Act
Beginning October 1, 2020, the Federal government will require all driver licenses and identification (ID) cards to be REAL ID compliant if used as identification to board an airplane, enter military bases, or at other federal facilities. In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a plan for ensuring the safety of all Americans. The Federal REAL ID Act of 2005 passed by Congress created this requirement to implement the Act. On December 20, 2013, the DHS announced an enforcement plan that would phase in the Act. Information on the REAL ID Act can be found by visiting the US Department of Homeland Security website.
The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the minimum standards. The purposes covered by the REAL ID are: accessing federal facilities; entering nuclear power plants; boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft or domestic flights; and entering military bases and most federal facilities. If you have a valid US passport, passport card, military ID, or another form of Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) approved identification, these documents will still be accepted to board a domestic flight.
California Compliance with Federal REAL ID Act Requirements
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) began offering a federally compliant REAL ID driver’s license or ID card as an option to the public on January 22, 2018, to meet requirements set by the DHS. Under the REAL ID Act, the DMV must meet requirements set by the DHS for its driver licenses and identification cards to be accepted for federal purposes.
How to Prepare for Obtaining a REAL ID
- Make an appointment to visit a DMV field office (recommended);
- Provide proof of identity (examples: US birth certificate, US passport, employment authorization document, permanent resident card or foreign passport with an approved form I-94);
- Proof of Social Security Number (examples: SSN card, W-2 paystub with full SSN);
- California residency document (examples: utility bill, rental agreement, mortgage bill, medical document); and
- A name change document, such as a marriage certificate, may be required.
More information on obtaining a REAL ID is available on the DMV Real ID Act webpage.