Can Id-compliant Driver's Real Licenses Arizonans Obtaining Begin

(Or, What To Do So You Don’t Need Your Passport On Your Flight To Vegas)

Best DMV-related gif ever (creds to Zootopia)

A few months back, one of my good friends Jeff told me he needed to go to the DMV to get his new driver license. Our exciting conversation went something like this…

Can Id-compliant Driver's Real Licenses Arizonans Obtaining Me, the know-it-all: “Haha, what a waste of time. You know you can just renew it online, right?”

Jeff, the actual knowledgeable one: “Um, not if you want to get a REAL ID so you can board a domestic flight.”

Me, sounding very smart: “Oh.”

REAL ID example from DMV website
Federal Non-Compliant Driver License example from DMV website

As it turns out, current California ID cards are not federally compliant. They can’t be used for federal purposes, like boarding a domestic flight or traveling to a military base. Thus, if you want to continue domestic plane travel with just your ID, you’ll need to get a REAL ID — otherwise you’ll have to use your passport starting Can Id-compliant Driver's Real Licenses Arizonans Obtaining October 1, 2020. However, if you’re not interested in using your ID for domestic travel or visiting federal facilities or military bases, you can still use the federal non-compliant license for driving, applying for and receiving federal benefits, and other services.

Step #1: Make a DMV appointment

The first unfortunate step in getting a REAL ID: you have to go to the DMV.

I know. But since this isn’t a pressing issue, you can simply set an appointment months from now, and wait. If your license is set to expire soon like me, I’d recommend setting your appointment before your license expires, so you don’t have to pay extra for a renewal.

Step #2: Before the DMV

Before your appointment, prepare the following materials:

  1. Identity document (usually this means U.S. passport)
  2. Proof of Social Security Number (SS card, W-2, pay stub with full SSN, etc.)
  3. Proof of California Address (signed rental agreement, utility bills, tax returns, etc.)
  4. If applicable: legal document supporting name change
  5. $35 in cash,Can Id-compliant Driver's Real Licenses Arizonans Obtaining check, money order, or debit card (NO credit cards!) 
    Note: this will only be $28 if you are only updating to Real ID instead of renewing your license entirely.

If you’re paranoid like me, you can bring more than one of each, and/or use the DMV’s official checklist here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/realid/checklist

Step #3: At the DMV

Once you get to the DMV, stroll past all the sad people waiting in the non-appointment line to your own appointment line. (Evil laugh optional.) Someone will direct you to fill out an application with some basic info. Once your application is confirmed, someone will handle your paperwork. You’ll take a photo for your new ID, and get your paperwork finished up. Take your temporary license and exit past all the same sad people waiting in line. (Evil laugh again optional.) I was in and out of the DMV in about an hour.

You should receive your REAL ID by mail within a couple weeks. I got mine less than a week after my appointment. Congratulations — YOU’RE DONE!