Hey California, the State finally got its act together and came up with a federally compliant identification card, aka a REAL ID card. You technically don’t need one until October 1, 2020 but if you just want one or have a soon-to-be expiring California driver’s license/ID card, now would be a good time to apply for the REAL ID card. Starting on October 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID card, U.S. Passport, military ID card, etc. to board an airplane or access military bases and other government facilities. Our current driver’s licenses/ID cards will not be accepted after this date.
California will be issuing both federally compliant READ ID cards and non-federally compliant ID cards and Driver’s Licenses so make sure to apply for the correct one. Non-federally compliant cards will still allow you to drive, apply for or receive federal benefits and enter federal facilities that do not require ID (i.e. post office) but they will not allow you to board a plane. The fees for both cards will be the same.
Here’s what the new REAL ID cards will look like. Notice the bear and yellow star on the upper right hand corner.
And here’s what the non-federally compliant ID cards will look like. It’s basically the same card with the same security features, minus the bear/yellow star and the words “Federal Limits Apply” in lieu of.
And before you even ask, no, you cannot renew an existing driver’s license or ID card with a REAL ID card by mail or online. You must show up in person to apply for a REAL ID card. Here’s how.
How to apply for a California REAL ID card
Just make an appointment by clicking here and provide one document from each of the following categories.
- Identity document
- Valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or Passport Card
- Certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate.
- U.S. Certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- Unexpired foreign passport with a valid U.S. visa and approved I-94 form
- Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
- Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card
- Unexpired employment authorization document
- Proof of Social Security Number
- Social Security card
- W-2, SSA-1099, non-SSA-1099 forms
- Paystub with full SSN
- Proof of California Address
- Rental or lease agreement
- Mortgage bill, deed/title to residential real property
- Home utility bill
- School documents
- Property tax bills
- Legal documents supporting name change (if applicable)
- Adoption documents
- Marriage certificates, domestic partnerships, etc.
- Dissolution of marriage/domestic partnership, etc.
- Name change documents
And that’s it. Just show up to your appointment with the required documents and smile for your picture. Your new shiny, REAL ID card will be mailed to you within a few weeks.