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Real ID: Everything You Need to Know


Hand holding keys and a Real ID

You might recall hearing something several years ago about Real ID and needing to get a new driver’s license. Or maybe you heard the news recently, depending on where you live. Regardless, you’re likely to hear more about Real ID as its full enforcement deadline approaches.

Continue reading to learn about the initiative, what it means for vehicle drivers, how to get a Real ID in your state, and when you’ll need to use compliant identification.

What is Real ID?

Congress passed the Real ID Act to set minimum standards for issuing sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. The effort, which is enforced by the Department of Homeland Security, intends to combat identity fraud and create a more secure verification standard for citizens.

All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia now comply with Real ID security standards and are issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, you might not yet have a Real ID if your identification was issued before your state implemented the new security standards.

In most cases, the only physical difference between a Real ID and a non-compliant license is a star shape in the top corner of the card. A standalone star might be black or gold, or a white star might be inside a gold or black circle. Maine places the star on the state’s silhouette; in California, it’s on top of the state’s bear logo.

So what benefit does the star give you? The primary benefit of Real ID is using it as identification at airports and some federal government facilities.

When is the Real ID Deadline?

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. Since then — and on different schedules — states implemented necessary procedures to issue Real IDs. Additional time was granted because the COVID-19 pandemic impacted states’ ability to issue compliant licenses and ID cards.

The deadline for full enforcement of the Real ID is May 3, 2023. For drivers with unexpired licenses, nothing changes. However, beginning on that date, every air traveler over 18 will need a Real ID-compliant identification or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at security checkpoints for domestic flights.

All new licenses and ID cards issued after a state complied with new requirements are Real ID-compliant. Licenses the state issued before enacting its Real ID program may still be valid for driving or general identification, but those licenses are non-compliant. Non-compliant identification will not be valid at TSA airport security checkpoints.

Can I Drive With a Real ID?

People can drive with a non-compliant driver’s license until it expires. Since Real ID is an extension to a driver’s license, both are considered acceptable licenses to drive. However, you are not allowed to drive a vehicle with a state identification card, even if it’s Real ID-compliant.

Real ID is valid identification only for domestic travel. It cannot be used for crossing borders. So, if your road trip route takes you to Mexico or Canada, be sure you also take your valid passport, passport card, or an enhanced driver’s license.

Enhanced driver’s licenses are TSA-approved identification for U.S. travelers crossing borders to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean by land or by sea. Five states offer enhanced driver’s licenses: Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

How to Get a Real ID

Each state has a different administrative agency that distributes Real IDs. It’s the same department, division, bureau, or office that issues driver’s licenses or state identification cards.

Current drivers likely won’t notice any significant difference in the application process when they renew their driver’s license. You can help ensure efficiency by making sure you have all the necessary documents.

You’ll receive a temporary paper ID when you apply for a Real ID at your state facility. Your new license or ID that is Real ID-compliant will arrive in the mail three to four weeks later.

How Much Does Real ID Cost?

States have different prices for Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. In most areas, the cost is the same as renewing or obtaining a standard new license or identification card. However, Real ID fees include supplemental charges in some states.

For example, Pennsylvania requires an additional $30 to obtain a Real ID. In some cases, there may be additional administrative, service, and processing fees.

The two maps below show the estimated maximum price to obtain a new Real ID non-commercial driver’s license or state identification card for adults over age 18. However, they do not include certain discounts, motorcycle license prices, enhanced license prices, or commercial license prices. Also, these prices are subject to change and renewal periods may vary.

See below for specific information on each state’s pricing.

Documents Required for Real ID

Your state’s driver’s licensing agency website will outline what documentation is required to apply for a Real ID. At a minimum, you must provide documents to prove their identity, your Social Security Number, a written signature, and documents that show proof of residence, and lawful status. All documents must be original or certified copies and must be verified in person.

  • Proof of identity with your legal name and date of birth
  • Social Security number proof
  • Two documents to prove residency in the state

States may impose additional requirements. Proof of Social Security is required in most states. However, the three states that do not require proof of a Social Security number are California, Montana, and South Carolina.

We highlight Real ID requirements for each state below. Use our jump-ahead links to skip to requirements from your state or the District of Columbia.

 

Alabama

In Alabama, Real IDs are distributed under the Department of Public Safety’s Star ID program. For the Star ID, all of the required documents must be verified in person. The application process and fees are the same as applying for a state identification card or driver’s license. It’s the same cost to renew, replace, or apply for a new card. The fee is $36.25.

Alaska

In Alaska, Real ID is distributed through the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Proof of identity, lawful status, residency, and Social Security number are required. In most cases, it costs $40 to renew or obtain a new non-commercial driver’s license. Commercial driver’s licenses cost $120 for new or renewed licenses. State identification cards cost $20-35, depending on the person’s age.

Arizona

Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division issues Real IDs. The state calls it a Travel ID. The first step in obtaining one is completing the Travel ID form available on the ADOT website. The required documents must be verified at your local MVD location. If you have a driver’s license from another state, you can schedule an appointment with the MVD or an authorized third-party driver’s license location. The Travel ID costs $25 for a new or renewed card, regardless of age.

Arkansas

Get your Arkansas Real ID from the Office of Driver Services. The process is the same as applying for a driver’s license or state identification card. It costs $40 for a new or renewed driver’s license, and $5 to renew a state identification card. The fee is $10 to convert your current non-compliant driver’s license to a Real ID, and $5 to convert an ID card.

California

The Department of Motor Vehicles issues California’s Real IDs. Applicants can start their process online by filling out forms and uploading them to the DMV website. This function may help speed up the process, but the documents must be verified in person. Californians do not have to show proof of a Social Security number but can use it as a form of identification. A new Real ID driver’s license is $39. A compliant identification card costs $33. There may be discounts and reduced fee options for those who qualify.

Colorado

Colorado’s Real ID driver’s licenses and state identification cards come from the Divison of Motor Vehicles. Present the required original or certified documents to prove your identity in person. A compliant driver’s license costs $30.87. Identification cards cost $12.67 for residents under 60 years old. Residents 60 years old and older do not pay a fee for state identification cards.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, the Real ID program is administered through the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will pay a one-time $40 examination fee for a new issue license in addition to the cost of a driver’s license. A driver’s license costs $72 for a six-year renewal and $96 for an eight-year renewal. The state is phasing in eight-year licenses. Non-driver identification cards cost $28 for seven years.

Delaware

Real ID in Delaware is distributed by the Division of Motor Vehicles. All required documents are verified in person when applying for the license. Real ID driver’s licenses cost $40 for an eight-year card. A Read ID photo identification card also costs $40.

District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, the Department of Motor Vehicles administers Real ID driver’s license or state identification cards. New applicants must have all of the required documents verified to apply for a Real ID. A new Real ID driver’s license costs $47. Non-driver ID cards cost $20. Those photo identification cards are free for senior citizens, homeless residents, and ex-offenders. Most DMV locations accept major credit cards, cash, and checks.

Florida

Florida Real ID is distributed through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Applicants must present the required documents in person to apply for a Real ID. The state charges $48 for a Real ID-compliant driver’s license. State identification cards cost $25. Some convenience fees may apply to any credential issued in a tax collector office.

Georgia

You can apply for a Real ID from Georgia’s Department of Driver Services. Your Real ID might have a black star on it or a gold star: Both are valid forms of Real IDs. Applicants must have the required documents verified in person for a Real ID. A driver’s license costs $32 for eight years. A Real ID-compliant photo identification card also costs $32. The DDS accepts cash, debit cards, credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. some discounts may be available to residents using the DDS 2 GO app.

Hawaii

Hawaii Real IDs are distributed by the Department of Transportation. Applicants must have all of the required documents to complete the process. A new driver’s license costs $40 for eight years. Real ID state identification cards last for eight years and also cost $40. The DMV accepts cash, personal checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks. They do not accept debit, credit, or bank cards for payment.

Idaho

In Idaho, Real ID is called the Star Card. You can get your Star Card from the Division of Motor Vehicles like a traditional driver’s license or state ID. A four-year Star Card driver’s license costs $35 or $60 for eight years. Real ID-compliant identification cards cost $15 for four years or $25 for eight years.

Illinois

Real IDs in Illinois are distributed by the Secretary of State’s Driver Services department. The cost for a Real ID driver’s license is $30 for Illinois drivers ages 21-68. Fees are less for younger and older drivers. State identification cards cost $10 for adults and $5 for residents 18 years old or younger. In some cases, qualified people can get their driver’s license or state ID for free. For example, active members of the Armed Forces, homeless individuals, and people with disabilities may be eligible for discounts. For people 65 years old or older, a state photo ID can be obtained for free. Drivers 87 years and older are not charged for a driver’s license.

Indiana

In Indiana, you can get your Real ID from your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office by using the same application process as a driver’s license or state ID. Applicants need all of the required documents for this application verified in person. A Real ID driver’s license costs $17.50 for drivers younger than 75 years old. The driver’s license fee is $11 for drivers ages 75-85 and $7 for drivers over 85. State identification cards cost $10.

Iowa

In Iowa, Real ID is administered through the DOT’s Motor Vehicle Division. You must have the required documents verified in person to apply for a Real ID. The cost for a Real ID driver’s license is $32 for eight years. Drivers younger than 18 and older than 72 have shorter renewal periods. An eight-year state photo identification card costs $8.

Kansas

The Department of Revenue’s Division of Vehicles distributes Real ID cards in Kansas. You must present the required original or certified documents for verification. The price for Real ID driver’s license renewals is $26. Fees are less for drivers under 21 and over 64. New issues incur an additional $3 testing fee. A Real ID state identification card costs $22.

Kentucky

In Kentucky, the Driver Licensing Regional Offices administer Real ID cards. You must have all required documents verified. A Real ID four-year non-commercial driver’s license costs $24. An eight-year license is $48. Real ID-compliant personal identification cards are available. A four-year card is $14 and an eight-year card costs $28.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, the Office of Motor Vehicles administers Real ID. You must have all required original documents verified in person when applying. A Real ID driver’s license costs $32.25 or $18.75 for drivers 70 years old and older. State identification cards cost $18. Some local OMV offices may have different additional convenience fees. Service charges for electronic transactions may be added.

Maine

The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles administers the state’s Real ID program. Ensure that all original documents are available for verification. Real ID driver’s licenses cost $55 for anyone under the age of 65, and $40 for anyone 65 and older. Real ID-compliant state identification cards cost $30 regardless of age.

Maryland

You can get a Maryland Real ID from the Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration. With all of the required documents, a new Real ID driver’s license costs $72 for drivers 21 and over. The license fee is $9 per year until the driver turns 21 years old. An eight-year renewal costs $48. A Real ID identification card costs $24 for adults and $15 for residents under 18. State IDs are free for residents 65 and older.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, Real ID is administered by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. For this process, you can apply online and have your required documents verified in person. Alternatively, you can make an appointment to apply in person. A Real ID non-commercial license costs $50. A compliant photo identification card, referred to as a Mass ID, costs $25.

Michigan

The Secretary of State’s office issues Real IDs in Michigan. With all the required documents, you can apply for a Real ID the same way you would a state ID or driver’s license. In Michigan, you can also apply for an enhanced driver’s license, which is suitable identification for travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. An enhanced driver’s license will cost more money and may require additional documents. A Real ID driver’s license costs $25. A compliant state identification card costs $10.

Minnesota

In Minnesota, the Driver Vehicle and Services department issues the state’s Real IDs. The required documents include proof of identity and date of birth, proof of Social Security number, and two proof of residency documents. A Real ID standard driver’s license costs $25.25. A compliant photo ID card costs $19.25. Be sure you have an acceptable form of payment. The North, South, and West Metro exam stations do not accept credit cards.

Mississippi

To get your Real ID in Mississippi, you can go to your local driver’s license station to replace or renew your license with Real ID. The program is administered by the Department of Public Safety, Driver Service Bureau. You will need all of the required original documents for verification. A Real ID driver’s license costs $24. Compliant state identification cards cost $17.

Missouri

In Missouri, the Driver License Bureau in the state’s Department of Revenue distributes Real ID. Ensure you have all of the required original documents for verification. In most cases, a Real ID driver’s license valid for three years costs $26. A six-year license costs $52. Real ID state identification cards valid for three years cost $12 and six-year ID cards cost $18.

Montana

You can get your Real ID through the Motor Vehicle Division in Montana. You must present original or certified documentation to prove your identity and residency, and your Social Security number will be verified. The state places an additional fee for Real ID on top of the driver’s license and state identification card fees. It costs $67.47 for an eight-year Real ID driver’s license. It costs $41.48 for a Real ID state identification card.

Nebraska

In Nebraska, the Department of Motor Vehicles administers Real ID. Ensure that all original or certified documents are available for verification. A Real ID driver’s license is valid for up to five years and costs $29. The fee for a five-year Real ID-compliant identification card is the same as an operator’s license, $29.

Nevada

The Department of Motor Vehicles distributes Real IDs in Nevada. Ensure that all original or certified documents are available for verification. There is a one-time Change of Information to make your current driver’s license or identification card compliant. The fee is $8.25 for a driver’s license and $7.25 for a state identification card. A renewal or a new Real ID-compliant driver’s license costs $41.25 for drivers under the age of 65 and $17.25 for those 65 and older. Compliant state identification cards cost $21.25 for adults. Fees are reduced for minors and residents 65 and older.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, Real ID is distributed by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Apply in person with all original or certified documents. If you replace your driver’s license before your renewal time date, there is a $3 replacement fee. Real ID-compliant operator’s license is $60. Non-driver identification cards cost $10.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, you get your Real ID through the Motor Vehicle Commission. You must apply in person with the required original or certified documents to prove your identity and residency. A Real ID-compliant driver’s license costs $35 and a standard identification card costs $24.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, Real ID is distributed through the Motor Vehicle Division. You must apply in person with the required documents to prove your identity. A Real ID-compliant driver’s license that is valid for four years costs $18. An eight-year operator’s license costs $34. Compliant photo identification cards cost $5 for a four-year ID. Eight-year ID cards cost $10.

New York

You can get your Real ID in New York through the Department of Motor Vehicles. You can also apply for an enhanced driver’s license, which is suitable identification for travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. For the Real ID, apply in person with the required documents for verification. A Real ID-compliant driver’s license costs $64.50. Drivers in counties that require the supplemental Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District fee pay $80.50. Compliant state IDs for residents age 62 and older cost $6. The eight-year ID cards cost up to $14 for residents under age 62.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, the Division of Motor Vehicles issues Real IDs. You must apply in person with the required original or certified documents. The fee for a Real ID driver’s license is $5.50 per year. An eight-year license costs $44. Compliant state identification cards cost $14.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, the Department of Transportation’s Driver’s License Division distributes Real IDs. You must present original or certified documentation to prove your identity and residency. A Real ID driver’s license valid for four years costs $15. Compliant identification cards cost $8.

Ohio

In Ohio, you can get your Real ID from your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles. You must apply in person with the required original or certified documents to prove your identity and residency. Operators 21 and older can get a Real ID driver’s license that’s valid for eight years for $48. Younger drivers are only eligible for four-year licenses. Compliant four-year identification cards cost $10. ID cards valid for eight years cost $19.

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the Department of Public Safety distributes Real IDs. You must apply in person with the required original or certified documents to verify your identity, residency, and Social Security number. Real ID driver’s licenses cost $38.50 and expire after four years. Drivers age 62 and older pay reduced license fees. Compliant identification cards cost $25.

Oregon

In Oregon, you can get your Real ID from your local Driver and Motor Vehicle Services. Apply in person and ensure that all original or certified documents are available for verification. Real ID credentials have a $30 supplemental fee added to the basic licensing cost. A Real ID-compliant driver’s license costs $70 and expires after eight years. A compliant identification card costs $40.50.

Pennsylvania

The Department of Transportation’s Driver and Vehicle Services administers Real ID in Pennsylvania. You must apply in person with the required documents to prove your identity. You will pay a one-time fee of $30 for Real ID credentials, plus the licensing fee. A Real ID-compliant driver’s license costs $65.50 and is valid for four years. A compliant four-year state identification card costs $62.50.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, you can get your Real ID at your local Division of Motor Vehicles. You must present original or certified documentation to prove your identity and residency, and your Social Security Number will be verified. A Real ID driver’s license costs $39.50 and is valid for five years. A compliant photo identification card for residents costs $27.50.

South Carolina

To get a Real ID in South Carolina, you can visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Applicants must present the required original or certified documents in person to apply for a Real ID. The cost for an eight-year driver’s license is $25. ID cards and renewals are issued at no cost to residents who are 17 years old and older. A $15 fee applies to ID cards for minors aged 5-16.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, you can get a Real ID at the Department of Public Safety. You must apply in person to prove your identity with the required original or certified documents. The cost of Real ID credentials is $28. A compliant driver’s license and identification card are valid for five years. Additional service fees may apply for some electronic payments.

Tennessee

In Tennessee, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Driver Services Division distributes Real ID credentials. Ensure that all the required original or certified documents are available to verify your identity. A Real ID driver’s license costs $28 and is valid for eight years. Compliant identification cards cost $12 for residents over the age of 18 and $5 for minors.

Texas

The Department of Public Safety administers Real IDs in Texas. Ensure you have all of the required original documents to present for verification of your identity and residence. Eight-year Real ID driver’s licenses cost $33 for drivers aged 18-84. The fee is $16 for drivers under 18, and drivers over 84 pay $9. Compliant identification cards are valid for six years. ID cards for residents age 59 and younger cost $16. Older residents pay $6 for a six-year card.

Utah

The Department of Public Safety’s Driver License Division issues Real IDs in Utah. All required documents must be presented in person when applying for the credentials. Real ID driver’s licenses cost $52 and expire after five years. Five-year identification cards that are Real ID-compliant cost $23.

Vermont

In Vermont, you can get your Real ID at the Department of Motor Vehicles. You must present original or certified documentation to prove your identity and residency. A two-year driver’s license that is Real ID-compliant costs $32. The fee for a four-year license is $51. Compliant non-driver identification cards cost $24. Vermont residents may apply for an enhanced driver’s license for an additional $30 fee. Enhanced driver’s licenses are suitable identification for travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Virginia

The Department of Motor Vehicles issues Real IDs in Virginia. Residents must ensure that all original or certified documents are available for identity verification. A Real ID driver’s license costs $32. However, there is an additional fee when you apply for your first Real ID, so your first compliant license will cost $42. State identification cards also have the supplemental $10 fee for first-time Real ID applications, making a resident’s first compliant ID card cost $26.

Washington

The Department of Licensing distributes Real IDs in Washington. You must apply in person with the required original or certified documents. The fee for a Real ID driver’s license is $89, and it’s valid for six years. A six-year identification card costs $54. Some residents may qualify for an eight-year ID card for $72. Standard ID cards may be available at a reduced cost to eligible applicants. Washington residents may apply for an enhanced driver’s license that is suitable identification for travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Additional fees are required.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s Division of Motor Vehicles handles applications for Real IDs. You must apply in person with the required original or certified documents to verify your identity. There is a one-time $10 fee when you first get your Real ID, in addition to driver’s license or identification card fees. Licenses are valid for five years and expire in the years your age is divisible by five. The licensing fee is $5 per year.

Wisconsin

You can get your Real ID at the Division of Motor Vehicles in Wisconsin. You must have all required original or certified documents when applying in person. An eight-year Real ID driver’s license costs $34. The fee for a compliant identification card is $28.

Wyoming:

The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Driver Services Program distributes Real IDs in the state. All required original or certified documents are verified in person when applying for the credentials. A Wyoming Real ID driver’s license is valid for 10 years. New licenses cost $45 and the fee for renewals is $35. Compliant identification cards for residents cost $10.

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