REAL ID in Pennsylvania

REAL ID in Pennsylvania

Beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

REAL IDs will be available in spring 2019 to Pennsylvanians who want them. This guide will help you decide if you need a REAL ID, and provide information on what documents you will need and steps you can take now to prepare to get an optional REAL ID.

Do I Have to Get a REAL ID?

No. REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You will be able to get either a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, or a standard driver’s license or identification card.

If you do not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally-acceptable identification (valid passport, military ID, etc.) to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities after October 1, 2020.

Applicable Uses Standard ID or DL REAL ID or DL
Driving (DL only) YES YES
General Identification Purposes YES YES
Boarding a Domestic (U.S.) Flight after October 1, 2020 NO YES
Entering a Federal Facility (that requires ID) or Military Base NO YES

You do NOT need a REAL ID to:

  • Drive.
  • Vote.
  • Access hospitals.
  • Visit the post office.
  • Access federal courts.
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits, such as social security or veterans’ benefits.

If you’re not sure whether a REAL ID is right for you, our REAL ID online wizard may be able to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would I want a REAL ID?

A federally accepted identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, U.S. Passport/Passport Card, military ID, etc.) must be used as your identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building on and after October 1, 2020.

If you want to use your Pennsylvania driver’s license or photo ID as identification for these purposes, you may want to consider getting a REAL ID when they’re available. Our REAL ID online wizard may help you decide if and when to get a REAL ID.

I have a passport. Do I need a REAL ID?

TSA considers a current passport an acceptable form of identification for boarding an aircraft. If you already have a U.S. Passport or Passport Card and want a REAL ID, we recommend that you wait until your next renewal to obtain one and avoid the initial rush.

Can I board a plane with the license I have now?

Yes. Current PennDOT-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards will remain acceptable identification for boarding domestic commercial flights, provided an extension is in place. Pennsylvania’s current extension lasts until October 10, 2018, and PennDOT will continue to apply for extensions until compliant with the federal REAL ID Act.

Will my child need a REAL ID to board a plane?

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 .

I just renewed my license and got the newly designed version. Is this a REAL ID?

No. Periodic design and security updates are standard business practice for PennDOT, and this change was unrelated to REAL ID.

Will the non-REAL ID driver's license or identification card be less secure?

No. While processes and procedures required by DHS to issue a REAL ID card differ from standard-issued cards, the non-REAL ID cards will be produced using the same security features.

How much will the REAL ID cost?

When you get your first REAL ID, you 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 your initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on your current license, plus an additional four years, unless you are over 65 and have a two-year license.

This expiration date structure means you won’t “lose” time that you’ve already paid for. After your initial REAL ID product expires, you will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

If my driver's license expires before REAL IDs are available, do I have to pay to renew my license and pay again to get a REAL ID?

Yes. You must renew your driver’s license when it expires; do not drive with an expired license. It will be optional and voluntary to change your current license to a REAL ID. However, if you choose to get a REAL ID when they are available, your REAL ID expiration date will reflect any remaining time on your current license, plus four years.

Will my REAL ID license or photo ID look different?

The visible difference will be 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.

More Information on REAL ID

Prepare for REAL ID

Gather Your Documents
The best thing you can do to prepare for REAL ID is to get your documents together . Federal regulations require that PennDOT must verify the following documents for a customer before issuing a REAL ID:

  • Proof of identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal — issued by an authorized government agency — or valid U.S. Passport.
  • Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card.
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address: Examples include current, unexpired PA license or ID and a no more than 90-day-old bank statement or utility bill with the same name and address.
  • Proof of all legal name changes: Marriage certificate, court order, or divorce decree issued by your county’s family court.

If you are a lawfully present non-U.S. citizen, acceptable documents include:

  • I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
  • Passport with I-551 stamp.
  • Machine-readable Immigrant Visa.
  • Re-entry Permit I-327.

Frequently Asked Questions

I don't have my birth certificate. What do I do?

If you do not have your birth certificate in your possession, you need to contact your state or county Department of Health office in the state of your birth and request an original or certified copy. Some states may take up to six months to process duplicate birth certificates, so it is advisable to begin this process right away.

What if my name, date of birth, or gender designation is different from what is on my birth certificate or legal status document?

If your current legal name, date of birth, or gender designation is different from the information on your birth certificate or legal status document, you must show legal proof of the change. Acceptable documents supporting a change include:

  • Name change or date of birth:
    • Marriage certificate or divorce decree.
    • Court order approving a change of legal name or date of birth.
    • Original or certified copy of an amended birth certificate showing a change of name.
  • Gender designation:
    • A certified, amended birth certificate with a raised seal.
    • A completed DL-32 form (PDF).

More Information on Documents

Apply for REAL ID Pre-Verification

Pre-Verify Online
If you received your FIRST Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit, or photo ID card AFTER September 1, 2003, PennDOT may already have your REAL ID documentation on file.

To find out if your required REAL ID documents are on file with PennDOT, apply for REAL ID pre-verification online .

If PennDOT confirms that your documents are on file, you can order your REAL ID online when they are available in spring 2019 — no need to visit a driver’s license center!

Pre-Verify in Person
If you received your FIRST Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID card BEFORE September 1, 2003, you must bring in your documents for in-person pre-verification.

Beginning in September 2018, you may bring your REAL ID documentation to any PennDOT Driver License Center for pre-verification. Once REAL ID’s are available in spring 2019, you will be able to order your REAL ID online — no need to go back to the driver license center!

Frequently Asked Questions

I got a postcard telling me that I’m eligible to pre-verify for REAL ID. What does this mean?

In September 2003, PennDOT began imaging copies of customers’ identifying documents as part of its initial driver’s license or photo ID issuance process, and scanned versions of those documents were included in those customers’ driving records. PennDOT is sending postcards to its customers who received their FIRST learner’s permit, driver’s license or photo ID card AFTER September 2003, informing them that PennDOT may already have their they may apply for REAL ID pre-verification on PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website .

Please note that you are not pre-verified until you have completed the online pre-verification process and received confirmation from PennDOT that your documents are on file.

For more information about REAL ID pre-verification, check out the REAL ID Pre-Verification Frequently Asked Questions .

More Information on Pre-Verification

Get a REAL ID

REAL IDs will be available to Pennsylvania residents in spring 2019.

Once you order your REAL ID online, PennDOT will use your most recent photo on file and your new REAL ID will arrive in the mail within 7-10 business days.

After REAL IDs are available in spring 2019, you will have three options for obtaining a REAL ID:

  1. Apply online (pre-verified customers only).
  2. Visit any PennDOT Driver License Center to have your documents verified and imaged. You will receive your REAL ID in the mail within 7-10 business days.
  3. Visit one of up to 13 REAL ID Centers statewide to have your documents verified and imaged. You will receive your REAL ID at the time of service.

 
 
 

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