Oct 23, 2019
People wait in line for DMV service in Winnetka on Sept. 5. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Starting October 2020, you’ll need a REAL ID to fly or enter federal buildings

All U.S. residents are encouraged to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card prior to 2020.

Driver’s licenses and identification cards alone will no longer be admissible as identification at airport security or federal buildings beginning Oct. 1, 2020, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Driver’s licenses or identification cards must have a REAL ID special marking when boarding domestic flights, the DMV stated.

So when should you get your REAL ID?

The California REAL ID, which features a grizzly bear and star in the upper right corner, will be required to board flights and enter federal buildings starting October 2020. (Courtesy Department of Motor Vehicles)

“The best time to apply for your REAL ID is when your driver license is up for renewal,” a spokesperson at the DMV stated. “If your driver license or ID card comes up for renewal after October 2020, you may want to consider applying for a card with the REAL ID mark before that federal enforcement date.”

To apply for a REAL ID card, applicants must provide the following documentation at a DMV field office: proof of identity, such as a U.S. birth certificate, passport or permanent resident card; proof of a Social Security number; and proof of a California address, such as a rental agreement or cell phone bill.

It’s encouraged that drivers and residents renew their license or ID card within 60 days of the expiration, and schedule appointments up to 90 days in advance.

Those individuals who renew their license online or by mail, or do not provide the required documents when renewing in person, will receive a regular license which, starting 2020, will not be valid identification when boarding flights. Such licenses and ID cards will contain a  “Federal Limits Apply” note in the upper right corner, according to the DMV.

REAL ID cards issued in the state of California will feature a grizzly bear and star in the upper right corner. Other forms of federally-compliant identification such as a valid U.S. passport will still be acceptable at airport checkpoints. Valid California driver’s licenses and ID cards will still be permissible for boarding flights until the Oct. 1, 2020 cutoff date. The switch to REAL ID is an effort to establish a standard for uniform federal identification. The uniform standard was recommended in 2005 by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

To schedule an appointment for driver’s license or ID card renewal, visit eDLapp.dmv.ca.gov. For more information on the required documents to apply for a REAL ID, visit REALID.dmv.ca.gov.

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