As most of you know, following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government put into action a more secure form of identification, known as REAL ID, for Americans seeking to fly domestically and/or enter certain federal buildings. Full implementation of the new requirements will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2020.
Although Pennsylvania is among the last of the states to make REAL ID available, PennDOT is preparing to offer the new identification starting in March 2019. Getting a REAL ID is optional. There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID, and PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver licenses and photo IDs.
Pennsylvania residents who wish to obtain a REAL ID may begin the pre-verification process now. Customers who received their first license before September 2003 and want to obtain a real ID will need to bring the required documents to a Driver License Center so they can be verified in person. (Residents who received their first license after September 2003 have been able to pre-verify since March.) Those documents include:
Proof of identity (original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal or valid U.S. Passport). Please contact my office if you need a birth certificate. Processing times can take several months.
Unlaminated Social Security card.
Proof of all legal name changes (marriage certificate or court order).
Two proofs of current, physical Pennsylvania address (current, unexpired PA license or ID and a no more than 90-day-old bank statement or utility bill with the same name and address).
PennDOT staff will scan the documents to the customer’s record, and when REAL IDs are available in March 2019, the customer can opt into the REAL ID program online, and their REAL ID product will be sent through the mail.
To obtain a REAL ID, customers will 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 their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over age 65 and has a two-year license.
This expiration date structure means that the customer won’t “lose” time for which they’ve already paid. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.
When REAL IDs are available, customers will have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product: pre-verified customers may order their REAL ID online; they can visit a PennDOT Driver License Center, have their documents verified and scanned, pay the one-time fee, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within seven to 10 days; or they can visit one of up to 13 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over-the-counter at the time of service.
More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania is available at www.penndot.gov/REALID, or call 610-965-9933.