What is Real ID?

The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, that establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins on October 1, 2020.

Beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID. A U.S. Passport is also an acceptable form of identification.

REAL ID is currently available through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and it is optional for Pennsylvania residents.

The chart below shows the difference between a standard ID or driver’s license, and a REAL ID:

REAL ID Fee:

You 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 the initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on your current license or ID card, plus an additional four years, unless you are over 65 and have a two-year license.

This expiration date structure means that you won’t “lose” time that you’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

REAL ID License Card Design:

The REAL ID-compliant product will be marked with a gold star. REAL ID products are produced using the same security features as standard-issued products.

After March 2019, standard-issue, non-REAL ID driver’s licenses and ID cards will also look different. Per federal REAL ID regulations, non-REAL IDs must be clearly labeled with the words “Not for REAL ID Purposes.”

Below are examples of what REAL ID and standard-issue products will look like: