In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, designed to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
Although REAL ID has been phased in gradually across the states, anyone flying domestically, visiting a military base, or entering another federal facility after May 2023 will need a REAL ID or other form of federal identification.
Below, the state Department of Motor Vehicles answers frequent questions about obtaining a REAL ID in California drivers.
I paid to renew my driver’s license online last year, but offices were closed due to COVID-19, so I couldn’t get a REAL ID. Will I have to pay a fee again to upgrade to the REAL ID this year?
No. Until the end of the year, anyone who paid to renew their driver’s licenses or ID cards after March 2020, will be eligible for a free upgrade to REAL IDs.
The DMV is offering the free upgrade to accommodate customers who faced barriers due to COVID-19.
In addition, it is now possible to begin the REAL ID application and upload supporting documents online before going to a DMV office. Completing the process at the DMV office should take 10 minutes or less.
For more information, go to www.dmv.ca.gov/realidupgrade.
What supporting documents are required to get a REAL ID?
Applicants need to provide one identifying document that includes full name and date of birth, such as an original or certified birth certificate, or a valid U.S. passport. They also need to provide two documents with name and address showing California residence, such as cell phone or utilities bills, mortgage or bank statements, or vehicle registration.
The DMV recently announced that applicants do not need to show their Social Security card but must still provide their Social Security number.
For more information, including a list of approved documents, go to www.REALID.dmv.ca.gov.