Real ID: Here's what you need to know about Real ID and the California DMV

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Have questions about the Real ID system? You're not alone. Here's a look at the top questions and answers.

What is Real ID?

Real ID is a new kind of identification card issued by the California DMV that requires more proof of identity / residence to obtain, and meets the new federal regulations for identification standards.

What's the difference between my old ID and a REAL ID?

The preexisting California drivers licenses and identification cards no longer meet federal standards. The new, REAL ID cards are supposed to be more secure and meet new, federal standards.

Why do I need a Real ID?

Starting on Oct. 1, 2020, you will need a Real ID (or passport) for the following:

  • To board a flight within the United States.

  • Enter military bases or secure federal facilities.

Do I need to make an appointment to get a Real ID? How do I make an appointment?

An appointment is not required, but strongly recommended. You can make an appointment on the DMV website.

Can I just drop in to my DMV office without an appointment?

Yes, but it is strongly recommended to have an appointment.

What are DMV office hours?

DMV office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Offices open at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays. Select DMV locations are open Saturdays. Check your local DMV here for more information regarding Saturday hours.


  • All DMV field offices will be closed on Thursday, July 4, 2019 in observance of Independence Day.

Do I have to wait until my current ID is expiring, or can I get a Real ID sooner?

If you are planning to fly after the date your current ID is expiring, then you should make an appointment and get a Real ID before. If you have a passport, you can use it to travel after October 2020, then apply for a Real ID when it is time to renew your current ID.

What documents do I need to bring with me to my appointment?

In order to receive a Real ID, you must bring the following documents to a DMV field office:

  • Proof of identity which includes one of the following an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization, permanent resident card or unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. visa and approved I-94 form. No photocopies will be accepted.

  • Proof of Social Security number which includes a Social Security card, W-2 or paystub with full SSN. Original or certified copies are required and no photocopies will be accepted.

  • Two different proofs of residency - street address, such as a home utility or cell phone bill, vehicle registration card, mortgage or lease agreement, bank account or property tax bill.

NOTE: Residency documents must show the applicant's name and list the SAME address that will appear on the federal compliant REAL ID driver license or identification card.

Are there alternative IDs I can use while traveling instead of a Real ID?

You may use a valid U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, military ID or other federally approved identification to travel after October 1, 2020 if you do not have a Real ID.

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