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California ‘Real-ID’ Driver’s License: What You Need to Know

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) began offering the federal compliant REAL ID driver licenses and identification (ID) cards starting back on January 22. This optional card is available to California residents who want to continue to use their driver license or ID card to board a domestic flight or enter secure federal facilities when new federal requirements take effect October 1, 2020.

Californians will have the choice to apply for a REAL ID driver license or ID card, or renew or apply for a federal non-compliant card. If you know you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting secure federal facilities or military bases, you do not need a REAL ID driver license or ID card.

Until October 1, 2020, a valid California driver license or ID card can be used for federal purposes, including boarding a domestic flight and entering military bases or secure federal facilities. After that date, only a REAL ID card or other federally approved documents will be accepted, such as a U.S. passport, passport card or military ID.

CARD OPTIONS:

Image of REAL ID Driver License with an arrow pointing to bear and star marking in top right corner

REAL ID Driver License – with bear and star marking

Image of Federal Non-Compliant Driver License with an arrow pointed to the text "Federal Limits Apply" in the top right corner.

To apply for a REAL ID:

You do not need a federal compliant REAL ID to do the following:

Beginning January 22, all California driver licenses and ID cards will also have a new card design. The new card features include a gold miner image on the right side of the card and California poppies on the bottom left. Under ultraviolet light you can see an image of the cardholder’s photo, birth date, Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower.

Image of REAL ID Driver License shown under ultraviolet light.
(REAL ID driver license under ultraviolet light)

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