REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions (2023)

The REAL ID Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005, requires changes to state standards, procedures, and requirements for the issuance of driver's licenses and identification cards, if they are to be accepted as identity documents by the federal government. This page is updated frequently; please check back often for additional information as it becomes available.

What is REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, that establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins on May 3, 2023.

When will REAL IDs be available in Pennsylvania?

REAL IDs are now available to Pennsylvanians who want them.

When do I needto get a REAL ID, if I don't have a passport and want to us my PA driver's license or ID card to board a domestic flight?

Beginning May 3, 2023, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant license, identification card oran acceptable alternative identification as approved by TSA(such as a passport)to board domestic commercial flights or enter a federal facility without a secondary form of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved identification.

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 until May 3, 2023.After that date,Pennsyvlanians will need a REAL ID or anotheracceptable alternative identification as approved by TSA(such as a passport).

For additional information on identification accepted by TSA, visit their website or call 866-289-9673.

I have a valid passport. Do I need to get 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 May 3, 2023, we recommend you wait until your license or ID card comes up for normal renewal and avoid the initial rush.

I am a CDL holder with a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Will I be able to use that to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facilityafter May3, 2023?

A valid, unexpired TWIC cardare currently on TSA's list of acceptable identificationfor boarding. Information about TWIC cards can be found on TSA's website.

For more information, visit our REAL ID for CDL Holders page.

Why did PennDOT wait so long to begin the REAL ID process?

(Video) Frequently Asked Questions about REAL ID

Until May 2017, Pennsylvania law prohibited PennDOT from complying with the federal REAL ID Act. Act 3 of 2017 repealed this prior legislation and allowed PennDOT to seek REAL ID compliance. REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and ID cards are nowavailable to customers who want them.

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 it was in the best interest of our customers to continue that important work despite prior legislation prohibiting REAL ID compliance.

Will the non-REAL ID driver's license or ID 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 are produced using the same security features.

Do I have to get a REAL ID?

No, REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You can to get either a REAL ID driver's license or identification card, or a standard driver's license or identification card. If you have a valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card, military ID, or another federally approved identification, you may use this as your form of identification to pass a TSA checkpoint at airports nationwide and visit a secure federal building or military installations at any time.

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 May 3, 2023.

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.If you know you will not be boarding a commercial flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base after May3, 2023or if you have a valid passport, you do not need a REAL ID.

Do I need a REAL ID to drive?

You do not need a REAL ID driver's license or identification card to do any of the following:

        • Drive
        • Vote
        • Apply for or receive federal benefits for which you are entitled (Veterans' Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
        • Enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (i.e. a post office)
        • Access a hospital or receive life-saving services
        • Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (serve on a federal jury, testify in federal court, etc.)

Where will I be able to get a REAL ID?

Customers who want a REAL IDhave three options to obtain one:

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

Please note that standalone photo centers are NOT able to perform REAL ID transactions, per federal regulations.

How much doesthe REAL ID cost?

Youwill 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 theinitial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on yourcurrent license or ID card, plus an additional four years, unless youareover 65 and havea two-year license.

This expiration date structure means that youwon’t “lose” time that you'vealready 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.

(Video) Good Question: What Are The Most Common REAL ID Application Mistakes?

I have a CDL and want to upgrade to a REAL ID, but my commercial endorsements make my renewal fee more expensive. Do I have to renew when I get a REAL ID, or can I get a duplicate instead?

Yes, CDL customers may choose to opt into REAL ID and receive a duplicate product rather than renewing.

For more information, visit ourREAL ID for CDL Holderspage.

I have a CDL. If I'm pre-verified, canI apply for REAL ID online?

CDL holders are currently NOT eligible to apply for REAL ID online - you must apply in person at a PennDOT Driver License Center.

If I've recently renewed my license, do I have to pay to renew my license and pay again to get a REAL ID?

It is 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 - you will not "lose" any time that you've already paid for.

Will my REAL ID license or ID card look different?

The visible difference is that a REAL ID-compliant product is 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."

Beloware examples of what REAL ID and standard-issue products look like, and additional images can be found on our Images page:

REAL ID-Compliant Driver's License:
REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions (1)
​Standard-IssueDriver's License:
REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions (2)

What documents will I need to obtain a REAL ID?

When you apply for a REAL ID (which will not be available until March2019), U.S. citizens will need to present original versions or certified copies (if applicable) of the following documents, per federal regulations. These documents can be taken to any PennDOT Driver License Center for pre-verification:

      • Proof of Identity
        • Examples: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised/embossed seal (not a sticker)or valid U.S. Passport
          *Please note that hospital or commemorative certificates are not acceptable
      • Proof of Social Security Number
        • Social security card showing current, legal name
        • *Please note that the name on your social security card MUST match the name on your proof of identity document or on the legal name change document
      • Proof of all Legal Name Changes
        • Examples: Certified marriage certificateor court order issued by your county's family court
          *Please note: You must show a complete name change history that links your birth certificate name to your current name. If you have a valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card with your legal name, you may use that as your name change document.
      • Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address
        • Examples: Current, unexpired PA license or ID, PA vehicle registration, auto insurance card,utility bill with the same name and address

For more information about documents required for REAL ID and for documentation requirements for non-U.S. citizens, visit our REAL IDDocument Check page.

Howcan I pre-verifyfor REAL ID?

(Video) Real ID and Your Rights

If you received your first Pennsylvania learner's permit, driver's license or photo ID after September 1, 2003, you are eligible to apply for REAL ID pre-verification online. Visit our Online Pre-Verification page for more information on this process.

I have a laminated social security card. Is this acceptable for REAL ID?

Yes, PennDOT will accept both unlaminated AND laminated social security cards for REAL ID.

I have a CDL and had to provide my birth certificate and proof of residency to PennDOT when I renewed. Does this mean I'm pre-verified for REAL ID?

No, federalREAL ID regulationsrequirethat you present proof of identity, proof of social security number and proof of PA residency when applying for REAL ID. Even if you have provided this info to PennDOT for a CDL renewal, you will need to present it again to get a REAL ID.

For more information, visit ourREAL ID for CDL Holderspage.

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.

If your current legal name or date of birthis 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 change:
        • Certified marriagecertificateor divorce decree issued by the county where original document was issued.
        • 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)

Please note:If you are using a passport as your proof of identity and your passport reflects your current name, YOU DO NOT NEED TO SHOW PROOF OF NAME CHANGE.

Additional information on name changes and REAL ID can be found on the Name Changes web page.

I have been married more than once. Do I need to show documentation of each name change?

(Video) Suzy Q & A Explains REAL ID

If you have been married more than once, you need to show a marriage certificate that shows the transition between names. You do NOT need to show divorce paperwork UNLESS you returned to your maiden name and the divorce decree orders your name revert to that previous name.

If you have a passport in your current married name and you use it as your main identity document, you do NOT need to show documentation of name changes.

My social security card was not accepted at a driver license center when I attempted to request a REAL ID. Why?

There are two common scenarios why a "card" from the Social Security Administration is rejected. First, the Social Security Administrationproduct is a stub and not the actual card: PennDOT can only accept social security cards and not the stubs which were attached to the cards. The Social Security Card stub was intended to be used as a reference source to get a duplicate should the actual card ever be lost; it was not intended to be used as a form of identification. The Social Security Card we look for have certain features, columns/pillars on opposite sides of the card as well as the Social Security Administration's seal.

REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions (3)

The other common scenario is a name discrepancy. REAL ID requires that the Social Security card presented have the applicant's current, legal name on the card and that there are no other names not accounted for on the other presented identity documents. If a confirmation name or another unestablished name appears on the Social Security card and is not present on the proof of identity document (birth certificate or passport) we do require a legal documentation – such as a court order – reflecting the name change to be complaint with the federal REAL ID regulations. A middle initial on the Social Security card is not a problem if the first initial of your middle name is present on your proof of identity document (birth certificate or passport) or on a legal name change document; for example, if your birth certificate shows "John James Doe" and your social security card shows "John J. Doe," this is acceptable for the purposes of REAL ID verification.

If you cannot locate your social security card, you should contact the Social Security Administrationto applyfor a replacement.

If you need to updateor correct your name on your social security card, please follow the instructions availableon theSocialSecurity Administration website.

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.

My name has changed since I opted in to REAL ID. How will this affect my REAL ID?

REAL ID products must show your current, full legal name. Any changes to your name need to be added to our records and your REAL ID product reissued. Legal documentation showing the name change (i.e., a certified marriage certificate issued by a county court or a court order) along with an updated Social Security card showing your new legal name must be presented at a driver license center to record the name change and update your record. Please bring your current REAL ID along with you to the driver license centeras it will be taken and voided; this is because individuals can only have one REAL ID product in their possession. A replacement license/ identification card will have to be generated with your new name. A new picture will need to be taken of you and a replacement fee charged to get you your new REAL ID product. If you need to update your social security card to reflect your new name, please visitthis page of the SSA's websiteOpens In A New Windowto find out how to do so.

Where can I learn more about REAL ID?


Can you fly without a REAL ID? ›

Starting May 3, 2023, every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or an acceptable form of identification to fly within the U.S. Passengers who do not present an acceptable form of identification will not be permitted through the security checkpoint.

Can you enter Canada with a REAL ID? ›

No. REAL ID cards cannot be used for border crossings into Canada, Mexico or other international travel.

What documents do I need to get a REAL ID? ›

To obtain a Real ID, Hoosiers must visit a BMV branch and provide the following documentation from each of the below categories:
  • Proof of Identity. ONE proof of identity is required. ...
  • Proof of a Change in Name, Date of Birth, or Gender. ...
  • Proof of Lawful Status. ...
  • Proof of Social Security. ...
  • Proof of Indiana Residency.

What ID do I need to fly within the UK? ›

If you are flying solely within the UK, including Northern Ireland, you do not need a passport but we advise that you carry photographic identification with you when travelling, such as your passport or driving licence. This may be requested at certain points in your journey.

What can I use instead of a passport to get into Canada? ›

Acceptable documents to denote identity and citizenship
  • Canadian passport.
  • Canadian birth certificate.
  • permanent residence card.
  • citizenship card.
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) card or valid Certificate of Indian Status (CIS) card.

How much is a REAL ID? ›

REAL ID and federal non-compliant cards are both valid forms of identification. All driver licenses, including REAL ID driver licenses, cost $35 and ID cards cost $30. For more information about REAL ID, visit

What is a REAL ID vs driver's license? ›

A REAL ID is a driver's license or identification card that is also a federally accepted form of identification. It can be used to board a domestic flight within the U.S. and enter secure federal facilities, such as military bases, federal courthouses, and other secure federal locations.

What are the 6 Point ID requirements? ›

6 Points of ID
  • At least one Primary Document.
  • At least one Secondary Document.
  • A verifiable Social Security Number (SSN), or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), or a letter of ineligibility for an SSN from the Social Security Administration (SSA) ...
  • Proof of address.

Can I get my ID online? ›

Apply online for your Smart ID. e-Home Affairs allows people to apply for their smart ID cards and passports, upload supporting documents and pay for their applications online. The best part of this process is that individuals can now do all of this in the comfort of their own homes.

How long does it take to get a REAL ID in California? ›

You will receive your new ID card via mail within 3-4 weeks. If you have not received your new ID card after 60 days, call us at 1-800-777-0133 to check the status.

What ID can I use if I don't have a passport or driving licence UK? ›

You can use a UK birth, adoption or naturalisation certificate, but you must send it with one of the following: National Insurance card, or a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue and Customs showing your National Insurance number - find your National Insurance number if you've lost it.

Can I fly without a passport domestically? ›

As of October 2022, there are no states that require passports from U.S. citizens to fly domestically. Your airline or the TSA should never ask you to present a valid passport. Of course, you can always carry it with you for additional photo identification in case you lose your other forms of ID.

Where can you fly without a passport from UK? ›

7 islands you can explore without a UK passport
  • Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight sits just off the south coast of England and has been a popular holiday destination for Brits since Victorian times. ...
  • Cork, Ireland. ...
  • Jersey. ...
  • Isle of Skye, Scotland. ...
  • Isles of Scilly. ...
  • Guernsey.
28 Jul 2022

What prevents me from entering Canada? ›

Other misdemeanor convictions that can get you barred from crossing the border include assault, disorderly conduct, mischief, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, possession of a controlled substance, petty theft, larceny, possession of stolen property, and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Does REAL ID replace passport for Canada? ›

Q: Can I use my REAL ID card to cross the border into Canada and Mexico and for international travel? No. REAL ID cards cannot be used for border crossings into Canada, Mexico or other international travel.

Can you go to Canada with an expired passport? ›

All are required to have a valid passport that does not expire within six months of your trip. To find out if you need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), complete the questionnaire on the Visit Canada page.

Is Passport Card REAL ID? ›

The passport card cannot be used for international air travel. Real ID: Passport books and cards are alternatives to a state-issued ID.

What does OK REAL ID look like? ›

REAL ID compliant driver licenses and identification cards have a gold star in the upper right-hand corner of the license to indicate it is REAL ID compliant. This is the only physical difference from a non-compliant credential, but it allows airport and federal officials to quickly identify the card.

How do I know if I have an enhanced driver's license? ›

REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card.

Do I need a REAL ID to fly to UK? ›

You'll need your passport for international travel, and you can use your passport to verify your identity at the TSA checkpoint instead of a REAL ID-compliant state-issued driver's license.

What can I use to fly if I don't have an ID? ›

Here are some alternative documents to try:
  • U.S. passport.
  • U.S. passport card.
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents.
  • Permanent resident card.
  • Border crossing card.
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver's License.
22 Dec 2021

Can I use my driving licence to fly with Easyjet? ›

Here's a few examples of photographic ID that is accepted: A valid passport - an expired passport can be used up to a maximum of five years after expiry. Valid photographic EU or Swiss national identity card. Valid photographic driving licence, provisional or full.

Can I fly with just a passport? ›

The U.S. passport book and U.S. passport card are both accepted as ID for domestic flights. You may not have heard about the U.S. passport card before. The passport card cannot be used for international air travel, but it is still a great ID to have in your wallet.

Does a passport count as a REAL ID? ›

Do you have a passport? A passport is an acceptable form of identification and may be used in lieu of a REAL ID Drivers License or ID to board domestic flights and visit federal facilities.

Can you use your passport as ID in the UK? ›

Acceptable personal identification documents include:

Passports of non-EU nationals, containing UK stamps, a visa or a UK residence permit showing the immigration status of the holder in the UK. A current UK or European photo-card driving licence.

How can I fly without a passport? ›

In short, you can fly to all 50 U.S. states and territories without a passport. Just make sure to carry either your driver's license or a state-issued ID. To avoid frustrations in the future, ensure your driver's license and other ID are REAL-ID compliant before May 2023.

Can you fly domestically without a passport? ›

No one needs a passport to fly domestically. A passport allows you to travel to another country.

Can I use an expired passport as ID? ›

Can an expired passport be used as an ID? The short answer is no; an expired passport or photo ID is officially an invalid form of identification and cannot be used to verify identity when setting up a bank account, taking out a loan, buying a house or getting legal advice, for example.

Can you fly with UK driving licence? ›

No, you cannot travel on your driving licence. You must have a valid and in-date passport or national identity card that covers the entire duration of your trip.

Can I get my passport quicker? ›

There are two ways to apply for an urgent passport - online premium and one week fast track. As part of the application, you'll need to attend an appointment at your nearest passport office. For the online premium process, you get your new passport at your appointment, which can last up to 30 minutes.

How long does it take to renew a passport? ›

The processing time for routine passport renewals is 2-4 weeks.

Why does my passport look different? ›

While our previous electronic passports (ePassports) are secure, the Next Generation Passport book (NGP) uses new technologies to produce a more robust passport with enhanced security features, such as a polycarbonate data page, laser-engraved personalization, and updated artwork.


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