With the one-year countdown beginning today for the federal enforcement of REAL ID for commercial domestic air travel and other federal purposes, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) joined the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and Philadelphia International Airport officials to remind Pennsylvania residents who want REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards and have not yet gotten one to gather the needed documents now to ensure they leave plenty of time to get their REAL ID before the federal enforcement date.
To date, PennDOT has issued approximately 1.6 million REAL ID products.
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, such as boarding a domestic flight or entering a federal building that requires federally acceptable ID upon entry. 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 be used for these purposes on and after May 3, 2023.
There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT continues to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.
“Although a year seems like a long time to get ready, the deadline will be upon us before you know it. We encourage our customers who want a REAL ID to get one as soon as possible,” said PennDOT Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula. “We continue to focus on providing the best possible customer service to all of our customers as the federal deadline approaches.”
Since March 1, 2019, PennDOT has processed about 8.3 million customers, with more than 1.6 million individuals choosing to opt into the REAL ID program. The remaining 6.7 million have chosen not to participate or use an alternative federally acceptable form of ID come the May 2023 deadline.
“We see plenty of travelers who reside in neighboring Delaware and New Jersey who fly out of Philadelphia International Airport regularly, and like all travelers from out-of-state who want to fly after May 3, 2023, they also will need to have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or other acceptable form of ID when they approach our TSA travel document podium,” said TSA Federal Security Director Gerardo Spero. “The REAL ID law is for all Americans who want to fly out of any domestic airport across the country starting one year from now. My advice is to go to your local state’s department of motor vehicles or department of transportation to get your upgraded REAL ID driver’s license now. Don’t wait.”
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 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 13 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.
For a full list of 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 pay a one-time fee of $30, plus the applicable 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 customers won’t “lose” time that they’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, customers pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.
REAL ID-compliant products are marked with a gold star in the upper right corner, standard-issue (non-compliant) products include the phrase “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES,” per federal regulations. Sample images can be viewed on PennDOT’s website.