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If you have been paying attention lately you might have heard talk about an upcoming deadline for getting a Real ID. You may also have a few questions about what this is and what you need to know. This overview should answer some of your questions and give you a few resources to help you make the best decision.

What is a Real ID?

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 to establish minimum security standards for license issuance and productions based on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. The new IDs will be required to access federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants, and board federally regulated commercial aircrafts. (1)

When is the deadline to get a Real ID?

The answer to this one is a little complicated – it depends. There are several different deadlines and there have been various extensions, based on where you live. You can go to the Department of Homeland Security website and view the information for your state.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the Federal Government will require driver’s licenses or identification cards to be Real ID-compliant to board airplanes and enter military bases or other federal facilities. If you don’t have a Real ID by this time you will need your passport to board any domestic flights.(2)

Do I have to get a Real ID?

In general, a normal driver’s license will still allow you to drive, and can be used for most required purposes of identification. But, if you plan on traveling or visiting a facility that requires a Real ID anytime in the foreseeable future, you may want to consider getting the process started, sooner rather than later.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has provided a great infographic to help you make this decision.

What do I need to do next?

The first thing you need to do is visit your local DMV office. Some offices allow you to make appointments online to help avoid long wait times. You can go to this website to find the one closest to you and see what services they offer.

Next, you need to complete the application and get all of your documents in order, and there are quite a few. Again, the CA DMV has provided a great interactive checklist to help, or you can view a full page PDF here.

I hope this helps get you started if you haven’t already gotten your Real ID. Be mindful of your upcoming ID expiration dates and be prepared to make the choice between a Real ID and a “Non-Compliant” card.

Sources:

1 – https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

2 – https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/realid