Jul. 26, 2019

With summer in full swing, many are traveling by plane to reach their summer vacation destinations. As families prepare to travel, my office has received a lot of questions from constituents regarding the REAL ID Act and if they need a REAL ID to fly. Talk of REAL ID has been going on for years and with so many changes, this issue can be confusing and difficult to understand. This updated information will help give you a better understanding of the background of the REAL ID Act, if you need a REAL ID, and how to obtain a REAL ID if you want one.

Due to the events on Sept. 11, 2001, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which requires changes to state standards, procedures and requirements for the issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards, in order to be accepted for certain federal purposes, such as entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight.

Beginning on Oct. 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant license, identification card or an acceptable alternative identification as approved by the Transportation Security Administration (such as a passport) to board domestic commercial flights, enter a military facility or enter a federal facility that requires an ID at the door.

Now, you may be asking, do I have to get a REAL ID? The answer is no; REAL ID is optional under Pennsylvania law. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), you will be able to get a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, or a standard driver’s license or identification card. It’s your choice.

However, if you decide to not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally acceptable identification, such as a passport or Military ID, to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities on or after Oct. 1, 2020. In other words, if you have a valid U.S. or foreign passport, U.S. passport card, permanent resident card, or U.S. military ID, you do not need a REAL ID.

If you do not have any of the listed items above, but plan to fly domestically or enter a federal facility that requires identification, then you will need a REAL ID. Your first step should be to get your documents together. Federal regulations require that PennDOT must verify original versions or certified copies of the following documents for a customer before issuing a REAL ID.
You will need:

• Proof of identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the state office of vital records with a raised/embossed seal — issued by an authorized government agency — or valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or passport card.
• Social Security card.
• Two proofs of current, physical Pennsylvania address: current, unexpired driver license or ID, Pennsylvania vehicle registration, auto insurance card or utility bill with the same name and address.
• Proof of all legal name changes: Certified marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree issued by your county's family court.
You do not need a REAL ID to drive, vote, access hospitals, visit the post office, or apply for or receive federal benefits, such as Social Security or veterans’ benefits.

Applicants will have to pay a one-time fee of $30 for their REAL ID, plus a renewal fee. As of 2019, the renewal fee is $30.50, making the total cost of a REAL ID $60.50, for a Class C four year driver’s license. The expiration date of your new REAL ID will include any time left on your current license, as well as four additional years – unless a customer is 65 and older and has a two-year license.

I know this subject can be confusing and overwhelming to understand. For more information regarding REAL ID, you can also visit PennDOT’s easy-to-navigate website, at pa.gov/REALID, or you can call one of my district offices and my staff will be happy to assist you with questions, 814-987-2080 (Harborcreek Office) and 814-664-9126 (Corry Office).

Representative Curt Sonney
4th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Brooke Haskell