The REAL ID

Your New Driver’s License

The time has come for all Californians’ to finally upgrade their driver’s licenses to a REAL ID driver’s license. We’re not talking about your typical new driver’s license that most you receive in the mail when it’s time to renew, but instead you will be issued a completely new ID card that was mandated as part of REAL ID Act of 2005 and passed in response to 9/11 that created new security standards for states driver’s licenses and IDs.

This is the biggest change to ID cards and driver’s licenses in years, yet most people haven’t heard about it, let alone know when they need to upgrade or even how to get their new REAL ID card. The government and the DMV have done little to inform the public and there has been very little media coverage. Not to worry, we’re here to change this, so let’s begin.

What is the REAL ID and why do I need it?

The REAL ID is a federal compliant driver’s license or ID card that all travelers will need if you plan to travel within the United States beginning January 22, 2018. The U.S. Department of State, states that “Effective January 22, 2018 air travelers with identification (ID) that does not meet the REAL ID Act requirements or whose State does not have an extension must present an alternative form of ID in order to board a domestic flight.” Basically, if you plan to travel domestically beginning in 2018, you better have upgraded your driver’s license to the new REAL ID. Without a REAL ID, you will need to bring your passport or be prepared to miss your flight because TSA will not let you through the security checkpoints.

Currently there are nine states whose ID cards to not comply with the federal minimum-security requirements including, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington. In all other states that comply, including California, you can continue to use your state-issued driver’s license or ID to fly in the U.S. until October 1, 2020, but we suggest you upgrade to the REAL ID as soon as possible. Keep in mind that you do not need a new REAL ID to drive, vote, or if you do not plan on flying domestically.

When do I need to upgrade my driver’s license to the new REAL ID?

Beginning January 22, 2018, all California DMV offices will begin accepting applications for the new REAL ID driver’s license and identification cards required by the Federal REAL ID Act. As a result, all California drivers will be required to visit the DMV to upgrade their driver’s license to the new REAL ID driver’s license if they plan to travel domestically. Remember, you have up and until October 1, 2020 to get your new ID card, however it pays to get it sooner rather than later especially if you plan on traveling.

How do I upgrade my driver’s license to the REAL ID?

You cannot apply for a REAL ID by mail, you must apply in person at your local DMV office. When applying for your new ID card, you must bring physical copies of more documents than currently required for a regular California driver’s license. These documents include:

  • Proof of identity, such as a U.S. birth certificate or passport
  • Proof of California residency – this can be a rental or lease agreement, home utility bill, mortgage bill or another approved document
  • Proof of social security number such as your social security card or a paycheck that discloses your social security number
  • If you change your name, got married or divorced, you may need to prove additional documents. You should be prepared to show a marriage license, dissolution of marriage/domestic partnership, or name change documents to establish your true full name.
  • You can find a list of all approved documents here

It’s always best to make an appointment at the DMV if you plan to upgrade your driver’s license as we expect all the DMV offices to be extremely busy during this time.

We believe that the changing over to the new REAL ID is a smart move. This will standardize the ID requirement across all states that currently have various ID standards and make your identification more secure and safe. We are advising all Californians to make appointment with your local DMV office and upgrade to the new REAL ID. You any also want to make sure your passport is current or order a passport if you don’t have one just to me safe.

Further information: