What Californians Should Know About REAL ID

Many people may not be aware of what the new REAL ID Act entails, but with this new identification system going into effect on October 1, 2020, it may be worth learning all about it. Read on for more useful information.

The REAL ID is a new identification card that meets new federal ID regulations and will be required to board flights within the United States and entering federal facilities such as military bases or federal courthouses.

Will you need to get the new REAL ID card?

That depends. Will you be flying domestically on a regular basis, or will you need to enter federal facilities such as courthouses? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, then you’ll need to get the REAL ID.

The DMV has devoted a section of their website to this new form of identification. Will you need a REAL ID? Take the DMV's official questionnaire to find out.

How to get your REAL ID in California

There are several steps you need to follow to obtain your California REAL ID. First, fill out the online application (which is available in several languages).

Create an account with the DMV and answer the questions on the application form. Select whether you want to become an organ/tissue donor, and register to vote.

Once you’ve completed these steps, the DMV will issue a confirmation number that you’ll need for an in-person appointment. Your information is stored for 12 months after completing this step of the process.

Next, gather all the documents required to obtain your California REAL ID. These include:

  • A legal and federally-approved form of identification such as a passport, a U.S. birth certificate or foreign permanent resident card (Green Card)
  • Social Security card
  • Two proofs of residence such as your lease agreement and a home utility bill

DMV appointment

Take all these documents with you to the DMV. While you don’t need to make an appointment, you should make one to save yourself some time. Most offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but check your local DMV’s schedule to be sure.

You’ll receive a temporary card while your official one is being issued and mailed to you. Your California REAL ID should arrive within 90 days after you complete the application process.

What’s the difference between the California REAL ID and a driver’s license?

Your current driver’s license will only be valid for driving. Starting October 1, 2020, a driver’s license will not be a legal form of identification and authorization to be in the U.S.

According to the DMV website, your driver’s license may be “used as photo identification.” But it won’t show “evidence of legal presence in the U.S.” To board any flight within the U.S., you will need a California REAL ID or a valid passport to prove your identity and legal status in this country.

If you follow the steps in this article, as well as those listed on the DMV’s website, obtaining your California REAL ID should be a simple process.

Remember that keeping your auto insurance policy up-to-date is mandatory for all drivers in California.

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