REAL ID FAQ: What you need to know about California's new license

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There is a lot of confusion surrounding California's new federally approved driver license, also known as the REAL ID.

Here's what you need to know:

Do I need a REAL ID?
According to the DMV, "Starting October 1, 2020, you will need to show federally-compliant identification in order to board a domestic flight within the U.S. and enter secure federal facilities, such as military bases, federal courthouses, and other secure federal locations."

A REAL ID counts as "federally-compliant identification." California's standard driver license does not.

That said, if you have a passport (or passport card) you have a "federally-compliant identification," so you don't need a REAL ID. It's also worth noting if you plan to travel internationally, you need a Passport. Some people may want to keep their traditional license and get a passport too. (Pro tip: if you skip the REAL ID, pay the extra money for a passport card so that you can carry your ID more easily.)

There are also a few other forms of "federally-compliant identification." You can see a full list at the TSA website.

How do I get a REAL ID?
First thing, make an appointment on the DMV's website, if you can. Wait times for an appointment range from a few weeks to more than a month. So if your license is about to expire, making an appointment may not be an option. In that case, you can apply without an appointment at a DMV office, but be prepared to wait for a long time.

Before your trip to the DMV, you'll need to bring three (or sometimes more) documents: an identity document (like your birth certificate), proof of your Social Security Number (like your Social Security card or a W-2), and proof of California residency (a utility bill). If you have changed your name since your identity document was issued (for example, you were married), you'll also need to provide a legal document supporting your name change (like a marriage certificate). There's a full list of acceptable documents on the DMV's website.

Finally, to make your trip to the DMV a little faster (who wouldn't want that?) you can fill out the REAL ID application online.

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