California Real ID Guide

What Is a Real ID?

The Real ID is a federally compliant driver's license or identification card that meets increased security standards established by the REAL ID Act of 2005. Starting May 3, 2023, a Real ID will be required to board domestic flights within the United States and access certain federal facilities.

Identifying a Real ID

A California Real ID can be identified by a gold bear and star in the top right corner of the card. This symbol indicates that the ID complies with federal security standards for identity verification.

Required Documents for Obtaining a Real ID

To apply for a Real ID in California, you must provide documentation proving your identity, Social Security number, California residency, and date of birth. Acceptable documents include:

  • One document proving identity and date of birth, such as a valid passport or birth certificate.
  • One document proving your Social Security number, like a Social Security card or W-2 form.
  • Two documents proving California residency, such as utility bills, rental agreements, or bank statements.

All documents must be original or certified copies. Photocopies and electronic documents are not accepted.

Why Is the Real ID Needed?

The Real ID enhances the security of state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards, which helps to prevent identity theft and increases national security. It is part of a nationwide effort to improve the integrity and security of state-issued credentials.

Applying for a Real ID requires a visit to a DMV office, and it's recommended to make an appointment to reduce wait times. The Real ID is optional; however, it will become increasingly necessary for domestic air travel and accessing secure federal facilities after May 3, 2023.