Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government developed 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 REAL ID is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2020. PennDOT is preparing to offer the new identification to Pennsylvania residents starting in March 2019. However, it important to note that obtaining a REAL ID is optional, and that PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver licenses and photo IDs to those who want them.
Pennsylvania residents who decide to get a REAL ID may begin the pre-verification process now. Those 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.) A checklist of required documents is available here. 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. 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.
One of the required documents is a certified copy of a birth certificate, which can take up to several months to process, depending on one’s circumstances. My office can help residents with birth certificate applications. Call or stop by for more information. More information about REAL ID, including frequently asked questions, can be found at dmv.pa.gov.
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