REAL ID - What You Need to Know

UPDATE (As of Aug. 27, 2018):

PennDOT announced on Aug. 27, 2018, that the agency is preparing to roll out the process for residents to receive REAL IDs, if they choose to obtain one, when they become available in Spring 2019.

Starting Sept. 4, eligible Pennsylvania residents who wish to obtain a REAL ID may begin the pre-verification process. 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 one. 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 (also called “imaging”) the documents to the customer’s record. 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 in Spring 2019, customers will have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product:
  1. Pre-verified customers (through process above) may order their REAL ID online;
  2. 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
  3. 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.
PennDOT is in the process of retrofitting six of its existing driver’s license centers to allow for over-the-counter issuance of REAL ID. Those centers are those in Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Rockview in Centre County, Erie, Altoona and South 70th Street in Philadelphia. Five additional locations will be opened in the following regions: Pittsburgh, King of Prussia, Allentown, Harrisburg and Lancaster.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the compliance deadline for when Pennsylvania residents must use a REAL ID or other acceptable forms of enhanced identification. Under this extension, Pennsylvania residents can use their existing driver licenses through Oct. 10, 2018. This will apply to both federal facilities and domestic airline travel.


DHS has established Oct. 1, 2020, to be the final REAL ID compliance deadline for all states.

For a complete list of other acceptable alternate identifications, please visit the TSA Website. Information on Pennsylvania’s REAL ID, including frequently asked questions, is available at

Pennsylvania’s REAL ID Background Information: 

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 will be required to 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. 

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. 

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.