REAL ID: What You Need to Know
By Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie)
Having the correct type of identification to board an airplane or enter certain federal facilities is a concern to many Pennsylvanians who have seen and heard about REAL ID in the news and are wondering when the special ID will be available in Pennsylvania.

The first thing to understand is that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the compliance deadline for when Pennsylvania residents must use a REAL ID. Under this extension, residents can use their existing driver licenses through Oct. 10, 2018. This will apply to both federal facilities and domestic air travel. It is expected that Pennsylvania will continue to apply for extensions until the state has met complete compliance.

DHS has established Oct. 1, 2020, as the final REAL ID compliance deadline for all states.

In order to meet that deadline, PennDOT has already begun work on the implementation of REAL ID and estimates that REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available, as an option for residents, beginning in March 2019.

In the meantime, residents who intend to get a REAL ID are encouraged to work on obtaining any required documents in plenty of time. Those documents include birth certificates with the raised seal, Social Security card, proof of all legal name changes and two proofs of current Pennsylvania address. My office can help with obtaining copies of the birth certificates, which can take up to several weeks.

PennDOT has also recently started an online application process for REAL ID pre-verification for customers who are interested in getting a REAL ID and obtained their first driver’s license or photo ID card after September 2003.

PennDOT estimates it may already have electronic documents on file for approximately 35 percent of its total customers, which will help speed up the process for those individuals.

If you did receive your first license after September 2003, PennDOT should be sending you a postcard inviting you to visit PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website to request that PennDOT confirm that your documents are on file. PennDOT customers without internet access may call PennDOT's Customer Call Center at 717-412-5300 or visit a PennDOT Online Messenger (PDF) for assistance with pre-verification.

Once an individual’s records have been deemed “verified” and after REAL ID products become available in spring 2019, the customer can opt into the REAL ID program online, pay the one-time $30 fee, plus their renewal fee, and his or her REAL ID product will be sent to the person through the mail.

If PennDOT does not have all the customer's documents on file, communication will be sent out from PennDOT informing the customer that he or she will need to bring their REAL ID documentation into any PennDOT Driver's License Center beginning in September 2018 for in-person pre-verification.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at

Representative Curt Sonney
4th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman

Share |