Harrisburg, PA – Even though it will be more than year from now until the Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses are available, Penn DOT is urging drivers to start getting ready for it. The new ID cards will become available spring of 2019, but they won’t be required until October of 2020.
To switch over to the new Real ID-compliant license, PennDOT has to see all of the following documents: proof of identity (such as your birth certificate or passport), social security card, proof of any all legal name changes, and two proofs of your current Pennsylvania address.
If you need a replacement copy of any of these documents, get it as early as possible. It can sometimes take up to six months for your replacements to arrive from Harrisburg.
The Real ID system is a federal law that would make all states carry the same information on IDs and would provide more information than before, such as proof of citizenship. After October 2020, anyone boarding a commercial airplane or entering a secure federal building will have to have a Real ID.
PennDOT strongly advises its customers to begin gathering the required documents as soon as possible, especially if they will need to obtain replacement documents. Some states may take up to six months to process duplicate birth certificates, so it is advisable to begin that process right away.
PennDOT has verified the legal presence (proof that the customer is either a U.S. citizen or that their presence in the U.S. is authorized under federal law) of all new customers when they obtain their first Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID card, and has kept imaged copies of the required identity documents on file as part of the customer’s record beginning September 2003. Because the documents that PennDOT requires to establish legal presence are the same as those required by the REAL ID regulations, PennDOT may already have documents on file for customers who received their first PA driver’s license or ID card after September 2003, approximately 35% of its total customers.
Beginning in March 2018, these customers will be able to visit PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website (or call PennDOT’s call center or visit an authorized agent for assistance) to request that PennDOT confirm the customer’s required documents are on file. If they are, PennDOT will mark the customer’s record 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, eliminating any need for this customer visit a Driver License Center.
Most of PennDOT’s customers, however, received their initial product BEFORE September 2003, so PennDOT does not have their required REAL ID documents on file. Customers in this group who want a REAL ID will need to bring the required documents to a Driver’s License Center so they can be verified in person. Beginning in September 2018, PennDOT’s 71 Driver’s License Centers will be equipped to verify these documents.
Customers will pay a one-time fee of $30, plus a renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license or a photo ID). The expiration date of their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license. This expiration date structure means that the customer won’t “lose” time that they’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.
When REAL IDs are available, customers will have two options for obtaining a REAL ID product: they can visit a PennDOT Driver’s License Center, have their documents verified and imaged, pay the one-time fee, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 7-10 days; or they can visit one of up to 13 REAL ID Centers (five of which will be existing facilities retrofitted to DHS security standards for REAL ID issuance) and receive their REAL ID product over-the-counter at the time of service. PennDOT will be retrofitting five of its existing driver’s license centers to allow for over-the-counter issuance of REAL ID, and adding up to eight new locations.
Pennsylvania is currently under an enforcement extension from the Department of Homeland Security until October 10, 2018, and will continue to apply for extensions until becoming fully compliant with the REAL ID Act.
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