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What is California Real ID and Why Do I need it?

By now, most most of you have heard the news that we will probably need to get a new drivers license or identification card called Real ID.  But why do we have to do that?  Back in 2005, President George W. Bush signed a law called the REAL ID Act which outlined the minimum-security standards for state-issued driver licenses as part of the Global War on Terror.  The goal is to keep U.S. citizens from holding multiple licenses, social security numbers, and will allow U.S. Government officials to check a person’s immigration standing.  After 15 years of delay the Real ID Act will be fully enforced.  Federal agencies, such as the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) will be unable to accept any ID that does not meet the federal standard by October 1, 2020.

 Below are six things you should know about California Real ID:


1.  What Does the New California Real ID Card look like?

The California Real ID Card looks just like a regular drivers license but it has a picture of a golden bear with a star on it.  

2.  Do You need to Get a California Real ID?

You are not required to obtain a Real ID by October 1, 2020.  Your existing drivers license will still be legal.  However, it will no longer be considered valid identification to board a domestic airline flight or enter secure federal facilities (courthouses, military base, or other govt. building where an ID is required) . Unless you have a Real ID, you will need to have a valid Passport as identification.  So, if you don’t have a U.S. Passport or don’t wish to carry your passport with you when you travel, then you should obtain a California Real ID.  (Note:  For international flights, you will still need to show a valid passport as identification)

3.  Do Minors need to get a California Real ID?

The TSA does not require anyone under the age of 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. However, the companion will need acceptable identification, such as a REAL ID, U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport Card, DHS Trusted Traveler Card, etc.

 4.  What happens if you do not want a Real ID Card?

When you renew your drivers license you will get a new one that read “Federal Limits Apply”.  This means you will not be able to use it to board flights within the U.S. or visit secure federal facilities such as military bases, federal courthouses, or other federal buildings beginning October 1, 2020.  A valid U.S. Passport will be required.

 5.  You Want a Real ID Card – when should you obtain it?

If you have a valid drivers license but you do not own a U.S. Passport, the Department of  Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends that you apply for a Real ID as soon as possible.  You can apply now and you don't have to wait until your current drivers license expires to apply.

If you have a valid driver license and a U.S. Passport, the DMV recommends that you hold off applying for your Real ID until your drivers license is up for renewal.  The DMV does not recommend that you get your Real ID earlier than your renewal cycle as they anticipate a high demand for Real ID between now and October 1st.  This will mean the inconvenience of having to carry your passport with you when you travel by air domestically until you receive your Real ID.

6.  What documents do you need to apply for a Real ID Card?

When you go into the DMV you will need to bring the following:

One document that shows your date of birth and true full name such as your passport, certified copy of your birth certificate, permanent resident card, etc.  

One document that shows your name, and full social security number like your social security card, W-2, paystub with full social security number.

Two different documents proving California residency that include the first and last name and mailing address such as mortgage bill, home utility bill, cell phone bill, vehicle registration card, that will be shown on your Real ID drivers license or identification card. (Now would be a good time to check your mortgage statement, utility bills and phone bills to make sure that at least two of these documents have the names of both spouses on them)

Since you have to bring these documents into the DMV in person, your initial Real ID cannot be obtained by simply renewing your drivers license on-line.  In subsequent years, you will be able to renew your Real ID on-line.

So for a majority of us, a Real ID will be necessary.  Be prepared to stand in line at the DMV!  To minimize your time at the DMV, it will be best to make an appointment.  You can just show up but be prepared to wait.

For more information on the Real ID go to https://realid.dmv.ca.gov/

 

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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Attune Financial Planning.  Please consult your financial, legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information only.