Federal REAL ID Deadline Approaching for Pennsylvania Residents

PennDOT marks one year of issuing optional REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, ID cards 

Harrisburg, PA – REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards have now been available to Pennsylvanians who want them for a full year, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports that it is well on its way to meeting the projected demand for the federally-approved form of identification.

Based on data from other states offering an optional REAL ID program, PennDOT projected that 1.3 million of its customers would get a REAL ID prior to the federal deadline of October 1, 2020. Since March 1, 2019, PennDOT has processed about 2.7 million customers, with more than 826,000 individuals choosing to opt into the REAL ID program. The remaining 1.8 million have chosen not to participate or use an alternative federally-acceptable form of ID come the October deadline.

“Although October may seem far away right now, we encourage our customers who want a REAL ID to get one as soon as possible,” said PennDOT Acting Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We continue to focus on providing the best possible customer service to all of our customers as the federal deadline approaches.”

federally-acceptable form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires a federally acceptable form of identification ID for access on and after October 1, 2020. REAL ID is optional in Pennsylvania, there is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.

Federal REAL ID regulations require that PennDOT verify a customer’s identity, social security number, Pennsylvania residency, and name changes (if applicable), even if a customer already has a PA driver’s license or ID card. More info about document requirements, including a printable document checklist, can be found on the Document Check page of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.

Customers have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product: customers may order their REAL ID online if they have been pre-verified; they can visit any PennDOT Driver’s License Center, have their documents verified and imaged, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; or they can visit one of twelve REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over-the-counter at the time of service.

When a customer gets their first REAL ID product, they 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.

To meet the added demand for REAL ID-compliant products, PennDOT upgraded seven of its existing driver’s license centers to allow for over-the-counter issuance of REAL ID (Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Rockview in Centre County, Erie, Altoona, Norristown and South 70th Street in Philadelphia) and added the following new locations:

  • 1025 Washington Pike, Rt. 50, Bridgeville;
  • 143 S. Gulph Road, King of Prussia;
  • 1101 MacArthur Road, Allentown;
  • 429 North Enola Road, Enola; and
  • 2090 Lincoln Highway East., Lancaster.

REAL ID-compliant products are marked with a gold star in the upper right corner, standard-issue (non-compliant) products include the phrase “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES,” per federal regulations. Sample images can be viewed on PennDOT’s website.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.