Citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this year that it was postponing the enforcement date for REAL ID, extending the current deadline of October 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023.
REAL ID is optional in Pennsylvania. There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation continues to offer standard-issue driver's licenses and photo IDs.
REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver's licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes. A federally-acceptable form of identification (whether it's a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver's license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must now be used on and after May 3, 2023, as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires a federally acceptable form of identification ID for access.
PennDOT reached the milestone of 1 million REAL ID compliant driver licenses and ID cards in December 2020 and continues on a pace of meeting its goal of issuing more than 1.5 million by the previous deadline of October 1, 2021.
Customers can obtain a REAL ID by presenting documents for verification and processing at any driver license center. Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify the below documents:
- Proof of Identity: Examples include original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised seal/embossed or valid, unexpired, U.S. Passport;
- Proof of Social Security Number: Social security card, in current legal name;
- Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address: Examples include a current, unexpired PA driver's license or identification card, vehicle registration or a utility bill with the same name and address; and
- Proof of all Legal Name Changes (if current legal name is different than what is reflected on proof of identity document): Examples include a certified marriage certificate(s) issued by the County Court for each marriage, court order(s) approving a change in legal name or amended birth certificate issued by the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics. If current name is the same as what is reflected on proof of identity document (usually birth certificate or passport), a customer does not need to show proof of legal name changes.
Customers have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product: Customers may order their REAL ID online if they have been pre-verified and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; they can visit any PennDOT Driver's License Center that is open for driver license services, have their documents verified and imaged, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; or they can visit one of 12 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.
For a full list of open driver license centers and their services, please visit the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.
When a customer gets their first REAL ID product, they 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 and $31.50 for a photo ID). The expiration date of their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license. This expiration date structure means that the customer 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.
Since March 1, 2019, PennDOT has processed about 5.9 million customers, with more than 1.2 million individuals choosing to opt into the REAL ID program.
Visit PennDOT.gov/REALID to learn more.