Updated on 3/6/2019

I am providing this information to keep people interested in Real ID up to date as PennDOT works to ensure Pennsylvania’s compliance with the Real ID Act through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  I will provide additional updates as PennDOT makes announcements.  I want to emphasize there are a number of unanswered questions.  Nonetheless, I want to keep you informed and will do my best to do so.   Below are some of the questions I’ve received to date. For more up to date information directly from PennDot, visit dmv.pa.gov/REALID.

Where are we now

Pennsylvania has been granted an extension to the Real ID Act through August 1, 2019.  All current PennDOT driver’s licenses and identification cards can be used to enter federal facilities through that date.  This applies, in particular, to federal government buildings, nuclear facilities and military bases.  Real ID is now available to customers. To secure your Real ID product, you can visit the Driver License Center (1710 Hoover Avenue, Allentown, PA, 18109) to have your documents imaged and request the Real ID product or online OR you can visit the Real ID Center in Whitehall at 1101 MacArthur Road.


Can I Board a Plane with my PA Driver’s License

Yes, you can use your PA Driver’s License to board a domestic flight.  The earliest this will be a concern for Pennsylvanian’s is August 1, 2019.  By this time, PennDOT will need to have taken all steps required to issue Real ID compliant licenses and identification.


What will I need to do to obtain a Real ID

The biggest task most folks will have to do in order to obtain a Real ID compliant license or photo identification is verifying their legal presence and residence.  For many people, this will mean a trip to a licensing facility.  For some people, this can be done online.


ID Obtained After September 2003

People who have obtained their first license or ID card since September 2003, PennDOT has verified the legal process of those individuals and all the identity documents are likely on file.  This means these individuals will likely be able to establish Real ID online.  This is approximately 35% of PennDOT customers. 


ID Obtained Before September 2003

Customers who obtained their first license or ID card before September 2003 will need to visit a licensing facility with documents detailed below in “What Will I need to Provide to PennDot”. 


Establishing Legal Presence with PennDot

Beginning in March of 2018, customers will be able to visit PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website to request that PennDOT confirm whether or not required documents are on file.  If they are, PennDOT will mark the customer’s file as “verified,” and after Real ID products are available in the Spring of 2019, the customer can opt into the Real ID program, pay the one-time fee and their Real ID product will be sent through the mail.

Customers who received their PA license or ID before September 2003 will be able to provide the documents needed to establish legal presence by visiting a licensing facility.  PennDOT will then mail the Real ID product within 7-10 days.  Additionally, PennDOT anticipates opening up to 13 Real ID centers in order to it possible to obtain a Real ID product over the counter at the time of service. 


What Will I need to Provide to PennDOT

If PennDOT requires you to visit a local license facility, you will need to bring the documents listed below along with you.  Plan ahead to obtain these documents NOW if you do not have them because some of them can take up to 6 months to obtain. 

  • Proof of Identity: original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal OR a valid US Passport.Birth Certificates can take the longest to obtain, so make sure you have it or act now to get one. Please note: the birth certificate must have the raised seal and also include the name of parents. A document not including the raised seal and not listing the parents will not be considered valid. Contact my office for questions about this

  • Proof of Social Security Number: social security card. For information about your Social Security card and how to obtain a replacement, visit: https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/. You can also visit the Social Security office located at 41 N 4th St in Allentown.

  • Proof of all legal name changes (marriage license or court order issued by your county’s family court)

  • Two proofs of current, physical PA Address (current, unexpired PA license or ID, no morethan 90-day-old bank statement or utility bill with same name and address)


How Much Will I have to Pay?

PennDOT has determined the one-time fee for individuals who wish to make their license or photo identification Real ID compliant will be $30.  This is to cover the costs of staff and equipment PennDOT will incur for Real ID compliance.  Standard renewal fees for (currently $30.50) licenses and identification will apply.   


My license expires before October 2020 … Will I have to pay for my license and my Real ID?

When you pay the one-time $30 fee, you will also be able to renew your license for an additional four years.  Customers will not “lose” time if they renew their license or ID before obtaining Real ID product.  After the initial Real ID product expires, the customer will only need to pay regular renewal fees. 


History of Real ID

I’m often asked questions about Real ID (what is it?) and “how did we get into this mess?”  Briefly, after 9/11, Congress passed a law that establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued driver’s license and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes.  This includes entering a federal facility or boarding a domestic commercial flight.  In 2012, before I was elected to the General Assembly, the House and Senate approved legislation specifically preventing Pennsylvania from spending any money to comply with the federal criteria.  This effectively prevented Pennsylvania from complying with the Real ID law.  After the Department of Homeland Security began issuing orders that would prevent Pennsylvania citizens from boarding a commercial flight, many of my colleagues agreed it was necessary to comply with the federal law.  The General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to do so in the early part of 2017.  I fully supported Pennsylvania’s compliance with Real ID.  Since that time, PennDOT has applied for extensions and been working with the US Department of Homeland Security to get Pennsylvania Real ID compliant as quickly as possible to avoid any complications for travel or federal building access. 


Real ID Newsletter

Recently, my team and I put together a newsletter that covers all you need to know about Real ID. The newsletter offers simple explanations on several different aspects of Real ID, including the application process, cost, where and when to apply for the ID and much more. It also provides a great explanation on when Real ID will be necessary to use. To read the newsletter in full, click here. My office can also provide you with a physical copy if desired.


Additional Information

PennDOT Advises Customers of Real ID Preparations (Click here for more information)

PennDOT FAQ’s (Click here for more information)