A new driver’s license is coming to California starting Jan. 22 when the Department of Motor Vehicles begins offering a form of photo identification that could make getting through airport-security checkpoints a tad easier.
But there’s no need to rush to your nearest DMV office in Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley to apply for one. Your current driver’s license and identification cards will be accepted at TSA airport checkpoints until Oct. 1, 2020, the DMV says.
After that date, passengers will be allowed to board domestic flights without the new TSA-compliant license, or REAL ID, as it’s called, only if they produce additional photo identification to go along with their California driver’s license, such as a passport. Certain cases are exempt.
People who never fly or plan to visit a secure federal facility or military base don’t need the REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, the DMV said in an announcement last November leading up to the roll-out date.
And children under 18 aren’t required to get the new identification cards. TSA does not ask minors to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States.
Congress passed a 2005 law requiring all states to comply with post-9/11 security requirements, which include the new, federally compliant REAL ID driver’s license and identification card.
California postponed the start of REAL ID, as did 20 other states, and received a two-year extension on the delay in 2015. When the extension expired last June, the state agreed to comply with the new federal mandate.
Drivers can wait for their renewal notices to arrive before applying for the federally compliant licenses, DMV department spokesperson Jaime Garza told The Acorn. Applications for REAL ID must be made in person and cannot be processed by mail. Applicants are advised to save time by scheduling a DMV appointment.
To apply and obtain the TSA-approved license or ID card, state residents must have a copy of a U.S. birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, a foreign passport, or a work permit or permanent residency card. Other documentation needed to process a REAL ID application includes proof of Social Security card, proof of California residency and a court document approving a name change due to marriage or divorce.
A federally compliant driver’s license isn’t needed to drive and vote in California and to apply and receive federal benefits, the DMV assures the public.
“The DMV wants to make sure our customers are informed about their choices starting in January 2018,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said. “If you choose to apply for a REAL ID, consider waiting until your renewal date, if possible.”
The DMV’s rollout campaign says frequent fliers stand to gain the most from choosing the new type of ID.
The new California license (pictured on Page 8) shows “USA” printed at the top. And a golden bear has been added in the upper right corner of the card.
The cost of a federally compliant license versus a traditional California one is the same: $35, according to Garza with DMV headquarters in Sacramento.
Renewals of REAL ID licenses or identification cards can be done by mail or online, and won’t require an in-office visit every time. The same applies to the identification cards, which are good for six years for adults under 62, and 10 years for seniors.
The DMV has created a page with frequently asked questions at dmv.ca.gov. Anyone who plans to visit a military base or federal facility should ask about their identification requirements, just in case.