Complete REAL ID compliance may still be more than a year away, but Pennsylvania residents have the opportunity to pre-verify through PennDOT and obtain the updated identification beginning in March.

The REAL ID Act is a federal law that was passed in 2005,” said Alexis Campbell, community relations coordinator for driver and vehicle services through PennDOT. “It spells out certain standards that states need to follow in order to issue drivers’ licenses and state-issued IDs.”

The REAL ID Act of 2005 was enacted May 11, 2005, by Congress and modified federal laws pertaining to security, authentication and issuance procedures for the state driver’s licenses and identity documents. Many states, including Pennsylvania lobbied for extensions to allow their agencies to prepare for the change resulting in a deadline of Oct. 1, 2020.

Even though Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Pennsylvania REAL ID Compliance Act last year, PennDOT will not officially be able to comply with the requirements until March 2019.

“In Pennsylvania, we’ll have REAL IDs available in March for those who want them,” Campbell said. “By Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID law is going to completely go into effect and will be enforced.”

REAL ID will be required for all domestic flights as well as entering a federal building. Acceptable alternatives will include a United States passport or military identification.

“Everyone in the United States will need a REAL ID or another federally-accepted identification to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building,” she said. “In Pennsylvania, having a REAL ID will be optional. If you already have a passport or a passport card, that will work after 2020 and you won’t need to worry about it.”

A REAL ID will not be required to drive or vote.

“We’re just over a year and one-half away from that enforcement,” said Campbell. “The regulations require that PennDOT verify every customers identity before issuing the REAL ID. Customers will need to bring proof of their identity, which for the average United States citizen, would be a birth certificate issued by the state department or vital records.”

Those seeking REAL IDs will also need to bring their Social Security Card and two proofs of state residency — like a passport, their current license, vehicle registration, auto insurance card or utility bills.

“For customers who have had a name change for any reason, we need to see legal documentation which shoes when and why the name change took place,” she said. “If they changed their name due to marriage, we need to see the marriage certificate issued by the county courthouse.”

If a passport is supplied as a form of identification and the name is the same as will be on the REAL ID, a marriage certificate is not necessary.

“Even though the REAL IDs are not available until March, we are allowing customers to bring in documents to any drivers license center for preverification,” Campbell said. “We will look at them to make sure everything is in order and will mark the driver’s record as eligible.”

Anyone who received their first driver’s license or state-issued ID after 2003 may already have identification documents on file with PennDOT.

“Those customers were sent special mailings inviting them to apply for REAL ID preverification,” she said. “They can go online and send a message to REAL ID for them to check their record to see what documents are already on file. If people are preverified, they can order their REAL ID online and don’t have to come into the driver’s license center.”

Campbell recommended that those interested in obtaining a REAL ID do so early rather than waiting until the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.

“We anticipate demand for REAL ID is going to get higher as the date gets closer,” she said. “Getting in early and getting it out of the way now will make it easier in the long run. We are trying to encourage as many as possible to take advantage of the preverification.”

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