What to know about Real ID: Here are the top questions and answers

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.

Why do I need a Real ID?

Starting on October 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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