United States

REAL ID Is Coming: Here's What Residents of Va., Md. and D.C. Need to Know

Heads up: Anyone wanting to use their driver’s license or state-issued ID to board domestic flights will need their cards to be REAL ID-compliant as of Oct. 1, 2020. If you haven't gotten one yet — or you're not sure how to — here's what residents of Virginia, Maryland and D.C. need to know.

What is REAL ID?

Congress approved the REAL ID Act in 2005, following a recommendation from the commission formed to study the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The commission determined that setting minimum standards for government-issued identifications would improve national security.

The act set those standards, which include requiring applicants to provide proof of identity and legal U.S. residency and requiring states to use counterfeit-resistant security features in the IDs.

Can I use my passport instead?

Travelers will still be able to use a valid U.S. passport or another federally approved form of identification in lieu of a REAL ID, but as of Oct. 1, 2020, noncompliant ID cards and licenses will no longer be sufficient for boarding a plane.

How can I get a REAL ID?


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REAL ID applicants will need to provide more documentation than those seeking standard IDs, and the specific requirements and deadlines vary by state.

Here’s what residents of Virginia, Maryland and D.C. need to know:


- Virginians need 2 proofs of residency to get a REAL ID. One proof can be a Virginia driver’s license or non-driver ID as long as it has your current street address. Other documents can be a utility bill or mortgage statement. See the document guide for more information.

- If the name listed on your birth certificate has changed, you will need to bring a proof of name change, such as a marriage license.

- Drivers can renew their license up to a year in advance. The cost would be $32 plus a $10 one-time REAL ID fee.

- If it’s not time yet to renew, you can ask for a replacement card for $20 plus the $10 one-time REAL ID fee.

- Virginians can use their current driver’s license or identification card to board a plane but will need to get a REAL ID by October 2020.


- Maryland pushed back their deadline until July 3 for about 43,000 residents who have received notice their REAL IDs could be recalled if they don't provide additional documentation. Go here to find out if you are in compliance. The state says it has been compliant since 2011. The federal government requires every driver to have a REAL ID by October 2020.

- Drivers need to show proof of identity, proof of social security and proof of address in person at an MDOT MVA branch. See the full list of acceptable documents and make an appointment here.

District of Columbia

- The District does not require drivers to update their license until it expires. Residents will need to fill out a form and deliver it in person to a DC DMV service center to register for a REAL ID.

- Drivers will need a proof of identity, two proofs of residency, proof of social security and proof of ability to drive. Drivers must be at least 16 years old and 16- and 17-year-olds must provide additional proof of parental approval.

- If you have a medical condition or are 70 years old or older, you will need to show a medical/eye form completed by your physician.

- Anyone with outstanding debts to the District or unpaid fines for moving traffic violations in other jurisdictions cannot get a REAL ID, according to the DC DMV.

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