EAST FALLS LOCAL ARTICLE: What you need to know about REAL ID

The REAL ID Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005 and is a federal law enacted as a result of the attack that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

It establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight.

Enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins Oct. 1, 2020. At that point, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card, or another form of federally acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

This article is to help raise awareness that not only does this requirement for a REAL ID exist, but that it could involve some time and effort to obtain, depending on your personal situation.

REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You do NOT need a REAL ID to:

  • Drive
  • Vote
  • Access hospitals
  • Visit the post office
  • Access federal courts
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits, such as social security or veterans' benefits

If you do not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally acceptable identification (valid passport, military ID, etc.) to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities after Oct. 1, 2020.

If you received your FIRST Pennsylvania driver's license, learner's permit, or photo ID card AFTER Sept. 1, 2003, PennDOT may already have your REAL ID documentation on file. To find out if your required REAL ID documents are on file with PennDOT, apply for REAL ID pre-verification online.

If PennDOT confirms that your documents are on file, you can order your REAL ID online — no need to visit a driver's license center!

The best thing you can do to prepare for REAL ID is to get your documents together. Federal regulations require that PennDOT must verify original versions or certified copies of the following documents for a customer before issuing a REAL ID:

  • Proof of identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the state office of vital records with a raised/embossed seal — issued by an authorized government agency — or valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or passport card. If you do not currently have an original or certified birth certificate in your possession, it could take anywhere from 2 (rushed through my office) to 5 weeks to obtain one from Pennsylvania.
  • Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card.
  • Two proofs of current, physical Pennsylvania address: Examples include current, unexpired PA license or ID, PA vehicle registration, auto insurance card or utility bill with the same name and address.
  • Proof of all legal name changes: Certified marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree issued by your county's family court.

If you are a lawfully present non-U.S. citizen, acceptable documents include:

  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Card (EAD) issued by DHS; Forms I-766 or Form 1-688B
  • Valid, Unexpired Permanent Resident Card I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Issued by DHS or INS
  • Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired U.S.visa affixed, and an I-94 indicating temporary evidence of permanent residence

Visit any PennDOT REAL ID center to have your documents verified and imaged and receive your REAL ID at the time of service.

Visit any PennDOT Driver License center to have your documents verified and imaged, and receive your REAL ID within 15 business days.

Additional information can be found on line at the PennDOT website or by calling my office at 215-482-8726.

And, in case you are wondering, I plan to get a REAL ID card as I do not want to carry my passport when entering federal buildings, flying domestically or visiting military bases.