California Compliance with Federal REAL ID Act Requirements
Under the REAL ID Act, the California DMV must meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its driver licenses and identification cards to be accepted for federal purposes.
How the REAL ID Act Impacts Californians
Beginning May 7, 2025, the federal government will require your driver license or ID card to be REAL ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight or to enter military bases and most federal facilities. The California DMV is now offering federal compliant REAL ID driver licenses or ID cards to customers.
Do I Need a REAL ID?
If you have a valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card, military ID, or other form of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved identification, you may use it as your form of identification to pass TSA airport checkpoints nationwide and to visit a secure federal building or military base. Check the TSA website at www.tsa.gov for a complete list of approved identification.
If you know you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base, you do not need a REAL ID driver license or ID card.
You DO NOT need a REAL ID to:
- Apply for or receive federal benefits (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
- Enter a federal facility that does not require ID (i.e., a post office)
- Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
Those under 18 are not required to have a REAL ID to fly.
Who is Eligible for a REAL ID?
U.S. citizens and all legal residents of the United States can apply for a REAL ID driver license or ID card.
How to Prepare for REAL ID
To apply for a REAL ID card:
- Make an appointment to visit a DMV field office (recommended)
- Proof of identity (examples: U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization document, permanent resident card or foreign passport with an approved form I-94)
- Proof of Social Security Number (examples: SSN card, W-2, paystub with full SSN)
- California residency document (examples: utility bill, rental agreement, mortgage bill, medical document)
- A name change document, such as a marriage certificate, may be required.
Original documents or certified copies are required. For more information, visit REALID.dmv.ca.gov.
What Does a REAL ID Look Like?
A REAL ID driver license and ID card will have a special marking in the top right corner of the card. The marking is the California grizzly bear with a star.
List of Documents to Apply for a REAL ID
You need one document from each section below. Original documents or certified copies of identity document and social security are required.
- Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card
- Certified copy of U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. Certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- Unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. visa and approved I-94 form
- Certified copy of Birth certificate from a U.S. Territory
- Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
- Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card
- Unexpired employment authorization document (EAD) Card (I-766) or valid/expired EAD Card with Notice of Action (I-797 C)
Proof of Social Security Number
- Social Security card
- W-2 form
- SSA-1099 form
- Non-SSA-1099 form
- Paystub (with full SSN)
Proof of California Address
- Rental or lease agreement (signed by owner/tenant)
- Deed or title to residential real property
- Mortgage bill
- Home utility bills (including cellular phone)
- School documents, Medical documents, Employment documents, or Insurance documents
- IRS or California FTB tax return
- Change of Address confirmation by the U.S. Postal Service
- Property tax bill or statement
- Faith-based documents, including name and address of organization
- Records from a financial institution
- Voter registration confirmation letter or postcard issued by the California Secretary of State or a local California county elections officer
- Proof of payment of resident tuition at a public institution of higher education in California
- An original copy of an approved Claim For Homeowners' Property Tax Exemption (BOE-266) form filed with a local California County Assessor
- Court documents that list the applicant as a resident of California
- A letter on letterhead from a homeless shelter, shelter for abused women, nonprofit entity, faith-based organization, employer or government agency within the U.S. attesting that the applicant resides in California
- A document issued by a U.S. government agency
- California certificate of Vehicle or Vessel Title or registration
- A DMV form DL 933, completed and signed
Legal document supporting name change, if applicable:
- Adoption documents that contain the legal name as a result of the adoption
- A name change document that contains the legal name both before and after the name change
- Marriage certificate
- A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership
- Dissolution of marriage/domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action