Since Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, there’s been a lot of confusion about what it might mean to the more than 2.5 million passengers who fly in and out of U.S. airports each day. Enacted in accordance to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, the Act was the Federal Government’s push to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, which has been overseeing the multi-phase implementation of Real ID, “The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. States have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and every state has a more secure driver’s license today than before the passage of the Act.”
If you’re like most Americans, reading that just now probably made you concerned. “What about my ID? Is it compliant?”
The answer: it’s complicated. And also, it depends on when you’re reading this article.
Do You Need Real ID?
First things first, there’s some good news: if you never plan on jumping on a plane to travel somewhere, or don’t have a need to access secure government facilities, then no… you DO NOT need Real ID.
Perhaps you’re incurably aerophobic, or the whole shebang of air travel is just too much of a hassle for your liking. If that’s the case, you can opt for a “Federal Non-Compliant License or ID Card” the next time you head into the DMV to renew/apply for one.
Here’s some fast facts about what the your limitations will be, however.
A Federal Non-Compliant Driver’s Licence/ID Card…
- is NOT allowed for boarding a plane starting October 1, 2020.
- is NOT allowed to enter a secure federal facility starting October 1, 2020.
- may require showing further evidence of legal presence to purchase a firearm.
With all that said, you DO NOT need a Real ID to do the following…
- Apply for or receive federal benefits (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
- Enter a federal facility that does not require ID (i.e. a post office)
- Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
- Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations
Please keep in mind the the above list is not exhaustive.
Additionally, if you are in possession of a valid (read: current) U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, military ID, or other federally approved identification, you may opt to use any one of them as your form of identification to board a domestic flight or enter certain federal facilities.
This means that, if you already have one of the above, you will not be required to have a compliant Real ID when you travel. Given the number of identifying documents it takes to acquire a passport, this makes sense: its inherently more powerful than the above, since its purpose is to allow citizens to travel internationally.
If you do NOT have one of the aforementioned pieces of identification, and you do plan to travel by plane, you probably guessed it: You will need Real ID.
Click here for a handy infographic from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to help you determine whether you need Real ID or not.
If you do wish to get a Real ID, keep in mind that it will not actually be required for flying until October 1, 2020. Meaning, until that date, you will continue be able to use your current licence or ID Card to fly. But after that date… no go.
How To Acquire a Real ID
Though it might be a bit of a hassle, it’s actually really easy to get a Real ID. In fact, the requirements virtually no different than what it takes to become a California citizen after moving here from another state.
In order to apply for a Real ID you will first have to do a bit of document collection. Here’s where the hassle comes into play. When you visit the DMV to apply, you MUST present original or certified documents (meaning, no photocopies) proving the following: your identity, your Social Security, and your residency.
Additional original or certified documents will also be required if you have changed your legal name. It’s currently uncertain about how Real ID might affect transgender or gender-nonconforming people, and whether those who have changed their gender markers on their licences through California’s recently streamlined process will also require additional documentation.
From the DMV website, here’s the step-by-step process to applying for a Real ID:
- Step One: Plan your DMV visit by making an appointment to visit a field office. (This is not a requirement, but is strongly recommended.)
- Step Two: Complete the electronic driver license and ID card application online before your office visit.
- Step Three: See the List of documents to apply for a REAL ID and bring original or certified documents to your DMV visit that prove the following:
- Identity, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, permanent resident card, or unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. visa and approved I-94 form.
- Name change documents, such as a certified marriage certificate, if the name on your identity document (for example, a birth certificate) is different than your current legal name.
- Social Security number, such as Social Security Card (here’s how to order a replacement one) or W-2 form with full SSN.
- California residency, such as home utility bill that lists your name and physical address.
- View the complete list of document options (PDF) to apply for a REAL ID card.
- Photocopies are accepted for residency documents
- Step Four: Pay the application fee: $35 for Driver License or $30 for ID Card.
One you receive a compliant Real ID, you can use it as you would your current driver’s license, and also use it to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility that requires identification, including after the new federal requirements go into effect on October 1, 2020.
If you have any questions about Real ID and how it might affect you or your family, you can check out the resources below, or reach out to us on our Facebook page. We can’t promise to have all the answers, but we can at the very least get you pointed in the right direction.
Have you gotten your Real ID yet? How was the process for you?
Have a serious injury and need legal advice?
Contact Howard Blau.
Ventura County’s Favorite Law Office
Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Real ID Act.” State of California. Retrieved 7 September 2018. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/realid
“Real ID Public FAQs.” Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 7 September 2018. https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs
“Is a Real ID California driver’s license hard to get? No. But is the hassle worth it?” The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 September 2018. http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-spot-real-id-drivers-license-20180128-story.html