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REAL IDs now available in Pennsylvania

March 06, 2019
By: Larissa Newton

REAL IDs now available in Pennsylvania

The time has come — Pennsylvanians are now able to get REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses or photo ID cards.

REAL IDs are the result of a federal law that affects how states issue driver's licenses and photo ID cards if they're going to be used for certain purposes. After Oct. 1, 2020, you'll need a REAL ID to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building that requires ID at the door. If you don't plan on doing either of those things, you may not need a REAL ID. Use PennDOT's REAL ID wizard tool to help you determine if you need one.

Here are the answers to a few more of our frequently asked questions about REAL IDs.

Do Pennsylvanians have to get a REAL ID?

No, getting a REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You do not need a REAL ID to drive, vote, apply for or receive federal benefits, enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (like the post office), or participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (like serve on a federal jury).

What's the difference between a REAL ID and a standard-issue ID?

The chart below shows the difference between a standard ID or driver's license and a REAL ID:

Differences Between a Standard License and REAL ID
Standard ID or Driver's LicenseREAL ID ID or Driver's License
Driving (DL only)✔️✔️
General Identification Purposes✔️✔️
Boarding a Domestic (U.S.) Flight after October 1, 2020✖️✔️
Entering a Federal Facility (that requires ID) or Military Base✖️✔️

If I have a passport, do I need 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, 2020, we recommend you wait until your license or ID card comes up for normal renewal and avoid the initial rush.

What will REAL IDs look like?

REAL ID-compliant versions of all varieties of commercial and non-commercial driver's licenses and ID cards will be available.

The visible difference between a REAL ID-compliant product and a standard-issue, non-compliant product is that a REAL ID-compliant product will be 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."

Below are examples of what REAL ID and standard-issue products will look like:

Pennsylvania sample license with a gold star depicting REAL ID compliance. Pennsylvania sample license with the words Not for REAL ID purposes.

For additional sample images, visit the REAL ID images page on the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.

What do Pennsylvanians need to do to get a REAL ID?

Federal REAL ID regulations require that PennDOT verify a customer's identity, social security number, Pennsylvania residency, and name changes (if applicable), even if a customer already has a PA driver's license or ID card. More info about document requirements, including a printable document checklist (PDF), can be found on the Document Check page of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.

Where can Pennsylvanians go to get a REAL ID?

Customers who choose to get a REAL ID have three options for obtaining one:

  • Apply online (pre-verified customers only)
  • Visit any PennDOT Driver License Center to have your documents verified and imaged, and receive your REAL ID within 15 business days
  • Visit a REAL ID Center to have your documents verified and imaged and receive your REAL ID at the time of service

The following PennDOT Driver License Centers can issue REAL IDs over the counter. Locations with an asterisk are new sites that will be open in March 2019.

REAL ID Center Locations
NameAddressCounty
Altoona1738A 9th Ave., AltoonaBlair
Bridgeville*1025 Washington Pike, Rt. 50, BridgevilleAllegheny
ErieSummit Towne Center, 7200 Peach St., ErieErie
King of Prussia*143 S. Gulph Road, King of PrussiaMontgomery
Lancaster East*2090 Lincoln Highway East., LancasterLancaster
Norristown1700 Markley Street, NorristownMontgomery
Rockview812 W. College Ave., Pleasant GapCentre
South 70th St.2904 South 70th St., PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia
Summerdale*429 North Enola Road, EnolaCumberland
Whitehall*1101 MacArthur Road, AllentownLehigh
Wilkes-Barre1085 Hanover St., Wilkes-BarreLuzerne
Williamsport1782 E. 3rd St., WilliamsportLycoming

How much will a REAL ID cost and when will it expire?

Customers who choose to get a REAL ID 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 the current license or ID card, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license.

This expiration date structure means that customers won't “lose” time that they'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.

The image to the right illustrates this scenario. In this example, when the customer got their first REAL ID in March 2019, their current product was set to expire in August 2023 – they had almost four years left. Their first REAL ID includes the time that they had left on their current license, plus four additional years.

Can minors get a REAL ID?

Yes, REAL ID-compliant versions of minor and junior driver's licenses and photo ID cards are available. If a minor chooses to get a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or ID card, they must present the required documentation and pay the $30 one-time fee, plus the regular initial issuance fee. The documents required to get an initial learner's permit, driver's license, or photo ID card (birth certificate or passport, social security card and two proofs of residency) are the same documents that are required to opt into REAL ID.

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, a list of which can be found on TSA's website.

Online REAL ID Pre-Verification

Customers who received their FIRST Pennsylvania driver's license, learner's permit, or photo ID card AFTER September 2003 may already have the required REAL ID documentation on file with PennDOT. These customers can apply for REAL ID pre-verification online, and after their request is submitted, PennDOT staff will review their record and determine whether the required documents are on file.

If the documents are on file, the customer may apply for REAL ID online, pay the required fees, and their new REAL ID will arrive in the mail within 15 business days. No need to visit the driver license center!

Additional information about Online REAL ID Pre-Verification – including frequently asked questions specific to online pre-verification – is available on PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website.

The best place to get the most up-to-date information is in the REAL ID section of PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website. You can easily get to the REAL ID section from any page on the website by clicking the “REAL ID” star icon. You can also get there directly by typing www.PennDOT.gov/REALID into your browser's address bar.

PennDOT's REAL ID website has a great deal of general information and FAQ's about REAL ID, plus specific information on the following:


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