Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2021, to May 7, 2025, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration.
Beginning May 7, 2025, 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.
REAL IDs are now available to Pennsylvanians who want them. This guide will help you decide if you need a REAL ID, and provide information on what documents you will need and steps you can take to get an optional REAL ID.
What is REAL ID?
REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding a domestic commercial flight, or entering a military installation or federal facility that requires ID.
Beginning May 7, 2025, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant license, identification card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to:
- Board domestic commercial flights.
- Enter a military base.
- Enter a federal facility that requires ID at the door.
Do I have to get a REAL ID?
No. REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You will be able to get either a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, or a standard driver’s license or identification card.
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 May 7, 2025.
The chart below shows the difference between a standard ID or driver’s license, and a REAL ID:
|Standard ID or Driver’s License||REAL ID ID or Driver’s License|
|Driving (DL only)||✔️||✔️|
|General Identification Purposes||✔️||✔️|
|Boarding a Domestic (U.S.) Flight after May 7, 2025||✖️||✔️|
|Entering a Federal Facility (that requires ID) or Military Base||✖️||✔️|
You do NOT need a REAL ID to:
- Access hospitals.
- Visit the post office.
- Access federal courts.
- Apply for or receive federal benefits, such as social security or veterans’ benefits.
If you’re not sure whether a REAL ID is right for you, our REAL ID online wizard may be able to help.
Prepare For REAL ID
Gather Your Documents
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.
- Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card.
- Two proofs of current, physical PA address (if applicable): 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
Some non-U.S. citizens may be required to present additional documentation. Additional information for non-U.S. citizens can be found on PennDOT’s REAL ID Information for non-U.S. Citizens page.
Learn more about REAL ID documentation requirements and download a printable document checklist on PennDOT’s REAL ID Document Check page.
Apply For Pre-Verification
If you received your FIRST Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit, or photo ID card AFTER September 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!
How To Get A REAL ID
Order REAL ID Online
Pre-verified customers may apply online and receive their REAL IDs in the mail within 15 business days.
Get REAL ID In-Person
- 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.
Click the buttons below to learn more about whether you need a REAL ID, what documents you will need and steps you can take now to prepare to get an optional REAL ID.