REAL ID - What You Need to Know

On May 26, 2017, Act 3, the Pennsylvania REAL ID Compliance Act, was signed into law. In drafting the law, the General Assembly provided flexibility for Pennsylvanians to decide whether or not they want to purchase a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card. 

Once the federal REAL ID Act is fully implemented, those with Pennsylvania’s REAL ID will be able to use the REAL ID for entry into federal facilities, where enhanced ID is required, and for domestic commercial air travel. 

Residents who choose to keep their standard driver’s license or photo ID must have an additional acceptable alternate type of identification, such as a passport or military ID, to board an airplane or enter a secure federal building. This applies both after full implementation of the federal law and in the event that Pennsylvania is not granted any more extensions. 

A passport will still be required for international travel. For a complete list of other acceptable alternate identifications, please visit 

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) does not and will not require children under age 18 to provide an ID when traveling with an adult companion within the United States. The adult companion will need acceptable identification.

With the passage of Act 3, PennDOT has submitted deadline extension requests to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This week, DHS granted an extended grace period allowing continued use of current standard driver’s licenses for federal facility access through October 10, 2017.

Since Act 3 repeals the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act of 2012 and allows for issuance of federal REAL ID-compliant licenses, DHS may grant Pennsylvania compliant status, from present noncompliance status, and deadlines will then likely correspond to those of compliant states. 

Compliant states will have until Oct. 1, 2020, to fully implement the REAL ID program. So, if Pennsylvania is deemed compliant in the intervening period, our standard-issued driver’s license will be accepted for federal facility entry and domestic air travel until October 2020, while the Commonwealth fully implements its REAL ID program.

DHS has confirmed that REAL ID extension decisions are pending final review, and federal agencies have been advised to continue accepting driver’s licenses and photo ID cards through the October 2017 extension. 

Preliminary work on REAL ID has begun, and PennDOT estimates REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available at the customer’s option in 2019. This will allow ample time for customers who want a REAL ID product to obtain one before the final DHS effective date of Oct. 1, 2020.

Once REAL ID is fully implemented, REAL ID enforcement notices will be posted at federal and military facilities requiring a REAL ID-compliant license or acceptable alternative ID for entrance. 

Generally, REAL ID-compliant ID will be needed for entry into nuclear power stations, military installations, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Energy (DOE) offices. Federal buildings NOT likely to post REAL ID enforcement notices include:

  • Federal courthouses (except those with restricted areas or semi-restricted areas).

  • General Services Administration (GSA) buildings with diverse public benefits offices, including immigration services and federal law enforcement agencies.

  • Veterans Administration service centers and health care facilities.

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices.

  • Social Security offices.

  • Post Offices.

  • Department of the Interior Agencies.

  • National parks and monuments.