PennDOT plans to make REAL IDs available starting in March 2019. There are a few steps you can take now to make getting one easier. 

By State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl

You might have seen the news that Pennsylvania has been granted another extension for adopting the new federally mandated REAL ID cards. There has been a lot of information about when they will be available, when they will be required and why you will need one. I’d like to cut through the confusion and noise, and let you know the facts.

The REAL ID is essentially a new form of driver’s license or identification card that you will be able to obtain from PennDOT in order to meet federal requirements which were passed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. It will look like a regular Pennsylvania driver’s licese or ID card but will have a gold star and will require a few additional steps to get, beyond visiting the driver’s license center.

Getting a REAL ID is not required, but starting Oct. 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID (or a passport, military ID or other form of federally accepted identification) to board domestic commercial flights and enter military bases or other federally-secured areas.

So if you are a frequent flier, or are considering flying somewhere and do not have a passport, you might want to consider getting a REAL ID when they become available.

However you will NOT need a REAL ID to visit the post office, to vote or register to vote, to receive federal benefits or to access hospitals and health clinics.

If you think you need a REAL ID, PennDOT intends to begin making them available starting in March 2019. However, if you want a REAL ID, there are a few things you can do now to make obtaining one easier. This summer, PennDOT began offering a pre-verification process for people interested in REAL ID.

If you received your first Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID after September 2003, the department might already have your required documentation on file. You can simply apply online for pre-verification.

If you received your first Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID before September 2003, you cannot apply online. You must bring the required REAL ID documentation to any PennDOT driver’s license center for in-person pre-verification.

To apply in-person you will need one of the following: A U.S. birth certificate, passport, certificate of citizenship or a certificate of naturalization. You will also need your Social Security card and two documents proving you live in Pennsylvania. These can be a current driver’s license, a utility bill, a W-2 tax form, tax records, lease agreements or mortgage documents.

All PennDOT licensing centers are now equipped to verify these documents for customers, and PennDOT is adding another REAL ID center in Pittsburgh to help process pre-verification applications.

If you don’t want to go through the pre-verification process, you don’t need to. If you decide you want a REAL ID later on, you can always get one after they become available at any PennDOT licensing center.

A REAL ID will cost $30 plus a renewal fee of $30.50 for a four-year, non-commercial driver’s license or a photo ID. The expiration date of your initial REAL ID will include any time remaining on your current license plus an additional four years, unless you are over 65 and have a two-year license. After your initial REAL ID expires, you’ll just pay the regular renewal fee.

I hope that this helps to clear up some of the concern people have about REAL ID and how it will be implemented in Pennsylvania. If you have any questions, or concerns, visit the PennDOT REAL ID website: or contact one of my offices.

As always, if you have any questions about this or other state-related matters, don’t hesitate to contact my office.

Adam Ravenstahl, Member

PA House of Representatives

20th Legislative District

District Office: 412-321-5523



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