How to get a Real ID driver’s license (it’s not that hard) |

How to get a Real ID driver’s license (it’s not that hard)

Nicole C. Brambila

Here is what you need to know to get a Real ID driver’s license.

First, be aware that “Real ID” is a process, not a specific identification. There are various types of Real IDs, such as a U.S. passport or card, permanent resident card and federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID, among others. These are, in short, ID cards verified by the federal government.

In Pennsylvania, Real ID is optional. You do not need a Real ID to drive, vote, apply for and receive federal benefits or enter a post office. But starting Oct. 1, 2020, a Real ID will be required to fly domestically or enter a military base or many federal buildings (those that require a show of identification). You can use a U.S. passport or the other forms of identification noted above, but many people don’t carry those documents on a daily basis and prefer the convenience of having their driver’s license meet the federal Real ID standards.

Obtaining a federally-enhanced driver’s license requires the following documents:

• A state-issued birth certificate with a raised seal. Commemorative certificates — such as those issued at the hospital, showing baby footprints — are not accepted. Copies can be ordered for $20 through the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A valid U.S. passport can be used instead of a birth certificate.

• A Social Security card. It cannot be laminated. (Click here to find the Social Security office nearest you.)

• Two proofs of address.

Card seekers must also present documents showing a legal name change.

The cost for a Real ID in Pennsylvania is $60.50. (This includes a one-time $30 fee and the renewal fee of $30.50 for a four-year noncommercial driver’s license.)

A license with remaining time will receive credit. So, for example, if you recently renewed your license and have three years before it expires, your first Real ID will be good for seven years.

Any driver’s license center can issue Real ID, with the standard delivery of the license in the mail within 15 business days. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, Bridgeville is the only driver’s license center that can issue a Real ID license over the counter. It located at 1025 Washington Pike (Route 50).

You can also apply online for a Real ID. It’s a two-step process: Pre-verification and, when approved, the formal application. Details are available at

PennDOT began issuing Real IDs March 1.

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