Starting on May 7, 2025, Pennsylvania residents will need a driver’s license or photo ID card that complies with REAL ID or an alternative piece of federally recognized identification (like a current passport or military ID) to board domestic, commercial flights or enter federal buildings or military installations that require identification.
Pennsylvanians who desire REAL IDs can now obtain them. This guide will explain what documents you’ll need, how to apply for an optional REAL ID and assist you in determining whether you need one.
What is Real ID Pennsylvania?
REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are to be recognized by the federal government for activities like boarding an interstate commercial flight or entering a military installation, or other federal facilities that require identification.
Starting on May 7, 2025, Pennsylvanians will need a license or identification card that complies with REAL ID or another type of federally recognized identification (such as a current passport or military ID) to:
- Board domestic and commercial flights.
- Enter a military base.
- Enter a federal building where a photo ID is required.
Do I have to get a Real ID in Pennsylvania?
No. Residents of Pennsylvania can choose to use REAL ID. A normal driver’s license, identification card, or REAL ID will be an option for you to obtain.
After May 7, 2025, you will need a different type of nationally recognized identity to board domestic and commercial flights or go inside some federal buildings. Examples of such additional forms of identification include a current passport or military ID.
You do NOT need a REAL ID in Pennsylvania to:
- Get healthcare hospitals.
- Visit the post office.
- Visit federal courts.
- Apply for or receive federal benefits, such as social security or veterans’ benefits.
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Prepare For REAL ID
Gathering your documentation is the best thing you can do to get ready for REAL ID. Before granting a REAL ID to an user, PennDOT is required by federal rules to confirm the original versions or certified copies of the following documents:
Proof of identity: Proof of identity might be an authentic, current U.S. passport or passport card or an original or certified copy of a birth certificate submitted to the state office of vital records with a raised or embossed seal.
Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card with a current legal name on it serves as proof of Social Security number.
Two proofs of current, physical PA address: Two evidences of a valid, physical PA address Current, valid PA driver’s license or ID, PA vehicle registration, auto insurance card, or utility bill with the same name and address are a few examples.
Proof of all legal name changes (if applicable): If necessary, documentation of any legal name changes: The family court in your county must certify any court orders, marriage certificates, or adoption decrees.
Acceptable documentation for non-U.S. citizens who are residing here legally includes:
- I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Issued by DHS or INS;
- Valid, Unexpired Employment Authorization Card (EAD) issued by DHS; Forms I-766 or Form 1-688B.
- A valid foreign passport, a U.S. visa, and an I-94 are temporary proof of permanent residency.
- It’s possible that certain non-citizens must provide more evidence.
How to Apply For Pre-Verification of REAL ID in Pennsylvania
Your REAL ID documents may already be on file with PennDOT if you obtained your FIRST Pennsylvania driver’s license, learner’s permit, or photo ID card AFTER September 1, 2003.
Apply for REAL ID pre-verification online to see if PennDOT has your necessary REAL ID documentation.
You don’t need to go to a driver’s license center to order your REAL ID if PennDOT confirms that your paperwork is on file.
How To Get A REAL ID in Pennsylvania
Order REAL ID Online
Customers who have already been pre-verified can apply online and have their REAL IDs in the mail within 15 business days.
In-Person REAL ID Obtaining
- Visit any PennDOT REAL ID center to verify and photograph your documentation, obtain your REAL ID at the time of service, and complete the application process.
- You can get your documents validated and scanned at any PennDOT Driver License Center, and you’ll get your REAL ID in 15 business days.
Does the federal government have access to REAL ID data?
Yes. Federal agencies have access to PennDOT data, but they do not collect or keep your data themselves.
Federal REAL ID laws are a set of federal guidelines that states must adhere to while issuing resident IDs. This indicates that states run REAL ID programs, not the federal government. It is the responsibility of the state to manage and carry out its own ID initiatives, including how your data and privacy are handled.
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Who can get REAL ID in Pennsylvania?
Any person who can demonstrate their identification, citizenship, and place of residence, whether they are a U.S. citizen or a foreign national with valid immigration documentation.
Immigrants without legal status cannot obtain REAL IDs. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can help you begin the process of obtaining immigration documents if you are an unauthorized immigrant. More information about obtaining a REAL ID as a non-citizen can be found here.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t have access to the internet. Can I still apply for REAL ID pre-verification?
Yes. For help with pre-verification, you can also contact our customer call center at 717-412-5300 or use a PennDOT Online Messenger.
I got a postcard telling me I’m eligible to pre-verify for REAL ID. What does this mean?
As part of the initial procedure for issuing driver’s licenses or photo IDs, PennDOT started imaging copies of customers’ identifying documents in September 2003. Those documents were scanned copies and then added to those customers’ driving records. Customers who obtained their FIRST learner’s permit, driver’s license, or picture ID card after September 2003 are receiving postcards from PennDOT alerting them that they can apply for REAL ID pre-verification on the company’s website.
Is REAL ID mandatory in PA?
Should I get a REAL ID? No. Residents of Pennsylvania can choose to use REAL ID. A normal driver’s license, identification card, or a REAL ID will be an option for you to obtain.
Do you need a Social Security card for REAL ID in PA?
You must produce your social security card when applying for a REAL ID. Your card needs to be authentic. Your social security card and your proof of identity document’s names MUST MATCH. You must submit an original copy of your SSA eligibility letter if you don’t have a social security number.