Fraud Prevention Blog

California & Real ID Compliance

Posted by Stephanie Cho on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 @ 09:31 AM

The California DMV released its Real ID-compliant driver license and identification (ID) card on January 22, 2018.

Congratulations, California! You did it! California residents now have a federally compliant Real ID driver license and identification (ID) card available to obtain.

For most people, Real ID will only affect them when they travel by air: if you do not have a Real ID-compliant driver license or ID card, you will need to have another form of federally-accepted identification in order to get past Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints – even for domestic flights. If you have neither a Real ID-compliant form of identification nor a federally-accepted form of identification when you get to the TSA checkpoint, you will not be allowed to pass and board your flight.

Starting October 1, 2020, all U.S. citizens will need to have a Real ID-compliant form of identification or another federally-accepted form of identification to get you past TSA security checkpoints and board domestic flights. California residents now have the option of getting a Real ID-compliant driver license or ID card by heading down to their local DMV.

Attention California Residents:

Get your Real ID driver license or ID card by October 1, 2020! If you don’t, you’ll need another form of federally-acceptable identification, such as a passport, to board an airplane – even for domestic travel!

What is Real ID?

“Real ID” is shorthand for the Real ID Act of 2005, which was passed by Congress in response to the events on September 11, 2001. The act stipulates that sources of identification, such as state-issued driver licenses, must meet minimum federal security standards in order to be accepted as a form of identification by Federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Currently, the deadline for Real ID-compliance is October 10, 2018. Identification issued by states and U.S. Territories need to meet the minimum federal requirements by this date. In the event a state or territory fails to meet the deadline, identification issued from that state/territory can no longer be used as an acceptable form of identification by Federal agencies starting October 1, 2020.

For example, if your form of identification was issued by a state that failed to meet Real ID requirements by October 10, 2018, starting October 1, 2020, that form of identification will no longer be accepted by the TSA at security checkpoints in airports – you’ll need another form of federally-accepted identification, such as a passport.


What is the Difference Between Real ID-Compliant Identification and Non-Compliant Identification?

Real ID-compliant identification meets minimum federal security standards, and therefore will be accepted by Federal agencies as a form of identification starting October 1, 2020. Real ID-compliant driver licenses and ID cards issued by California have a small emblem of a gold bear and a star at the upper right corner.

Non-compliant identification does not meet minimum federal security standards, and therefore will not be accepted by Federal agencies as a form of identification starting October 1, 2020. Non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards issued by California have the words “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” in place of the small emblem of a gold bard and a star at the upper right corner but otherwise look identical to Real ID-compliant driver licenses and ID cards.

On the Real ID driver license (left) there is a small gold bear with a star at the upper right corner, but the non-compliant driver license (right) there is the text "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY" instead.

There is no difference in the cost of Real ID-compliant identification and non-compliant identification: it will cost California residents $35 to obtain either.


How Can California Residents Obtain a Real ID Driver License or ID Card?

In order to obtain a Real ID driver license or ID card, you’ll need to bring the following documents to the DMV:

  • Identity Document (such as a U.S. Passport or U.S. Birth Certificate)
  • Proof of Social Security Number (such as a Social Security Card or W-2 form)
  • Proof of California Address (such as a home utility bill or mortgage bill)
  • (If you changed your name) An Original or Certified Copy of your Name Change Document (such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree)

For a full list of acceptable documents, click here.


Is Having a Real ID Driver License/ID Card Mandatory?

No, having a Real ID Driver License or ID Card is not mandatory. It is up to you to choose between having Real ID identification and non-compliant identification.

If you do not want a Real ID driver license or ID card, renew your driver license or ID card as usual – there is no need for additional documents.


In Which Situations Will I Need to Use a Real ID Driver License/ID Card?

As mentioned above, starting October 1, 2020, you will need Real ID-compliant identification to board an airplane, even for domestic travel. In addition, you will need to Real-ID compliant identification in order to:

  • Enter a military base
  • Enter a nuclear power plant

If you do not have a Real ID driver license or ID card in these situations, you’ll need to present another form of federally-accepted form of identification; a list of acceptable identification can be found here.


In Which Situations Will I Need to Use a Real ID Driver License/ID Card?

  • Entering Federal facilities that do not require identification to enter (such as the post office)
  • Voting or registering to vote
  • Applying for and receiving Federal benefits (such as benefits through Veterans Affairs)
  • Being licensed by a state to drive
  • Accessing health or life preserving services, law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations

For more information about Real ID, check out our previous post.

Topics: real ID, driver license update, driver's licenses

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