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What is a REAL ID?

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005, and is already in effect.  But, beginning in October 2020, all states will need to comply.   There will be new restrictions on the kinds of identification that people can use to board flights and enter federal buildings.  A California issued REAL ID driver license or identification card meets these new requirements.  California REAL IDs are marked with a gold bear and star.


Comparing REAL ID with non-REAL ID license

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Do I need one?

You only need a REAL ID if you want to fly from the U.S. or enter federal buildings, such as federal courthouses and nuclear power plants.  However, you do NOT need it to apply for or receive federal benefits from organizations, such as Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration.  You also do not need it to enter the post office.

How do I get a Real ID?

Applying for a REAL ID requires proofs of identity, social security number (SSN) if eligible, California residency, and a trip to a DMV office.  Here is the official document checklist.  You can fill out the application online, but you cannot get a REAL ID online — you have to got to the DMV in person.

For more information, check out California’s REAL ID website.