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California offers driver license/identification cards that are REAL ID compliant

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Dec. 5, 2022 update: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intent to extend the REAL ID full enforcement date by 24 months, from May 3, 2023, to May 7, 2025. 

The story below has been revised accordingly since its original publication in January 2019.

Do you need a REAL ID?

Beginning May 7, 2025, passengers who want to continue to use their driver license or ID card to board a domestic flight will need to show a federal compliant REAL ID driver license or ID card with a special marking. To get one of these cards, a person must apply at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office and provide federally mandated documentation.

The REAL ID card is optional. A person can use other federal compliant identification, such as a valid U.S. passport, to pass through airport security, as well as enter secure federal buildings and military facilities.

Applying for a REAL ID

Anyone interested in applying for a driver license/ID card with the REAL ID mark is required to visit a DMV field office in person and present specific documentation:

  • Proof of identity (U.S. birth certificate, valid U.S. passport, permanent resident card, foreign passport with an approved form I-94. A school ID card is not accepted). Note: A name change document, such as a marriage certificate or court-filed adoption papers, is required if you legally changed your name.
  • Proof of Social Security number (Social Security card, W-2 form, paystub with full SSN).
  • TWO DIFFERENT printed documents that show your California mailing addressBOTH documents must show your first and last name with the same mailing address that is listed on your REAL ID application.

A full list of accepted documents and an interactive checklist are available on the Real ID page of the California DMV website.

Real ID

A REAL ID issued in California will display a grizzly bear and star in the upper right corner. A federal non-compliant card will have “Federal Limits Apply” in that area. Either card still allows you to drive, apply for or receive federal benefits, enter federal facilities like post offices, visit hospitals and receive life-saving services.

Get all the facts about REAL ID on the Real ID page of the California DMV website.

 

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