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One year to go until REAL ID takes effect

There is one year left to get your REAL ID before new federal identification requirements take effect for domestic travel at airports nationwide.

Beginning October 1, 2020, the federal government will require a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, or another federally approved form of ID such as a passport, in order to board a domestic flight.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) began issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards one year ago, on October 1, 2018, to give Virginians time to obtain this optional credential if they desired in advance of the federal enforcement deadline.

DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb today joined Transportation Security Administration officials at Reagan National Airport for a news conference to remind Americans of the upcoming change in identification requirements for domestic travel.

“More than 675,000 Virginians have already obtained their REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card,” Commissioner Holcomb said. “The Commonwealth is ahead of the curve by starting the process two years ahead of the deadline so residents don’t have to wait until the last minute to get their REAL ID. When federal enforcement of REAL ID begins at the airports October 1, 2020, Virginians will want to be prepared. Now is a great time to visit DMV to get the identification you’ll need to keep traveling.”

Fall months of October, November and December are typically less busy at DMV’s 75 customer service centers. Customers can also take advantage of DMV’s mobile services. Four DMV2Go mobile offices (customer service centers “on wheels”) and eight DMV Connect teams (DMV services “in a suitcase”) are assisting across the Commonwealth. These mobile teams provide services, including REAL ID, at a broad range of locations and events, including businesses, military bases, libraries, universities, community centers, courthouses, local government offices, and conferences. A schedule of visits is available at

DMV also offers a service that allows eligible customers to start a REAL ID transaction from a home computer or mobile device. This “Start Anywhere” transaction is available to customers during their driver’s license renewal period, which is up to 12 months prior to expiration, or when replacing their driver’s license, by securely creating or logging in to their account at and selecting driver’s license renewal or replacement in Online Services.

REAL ID-compliant credentials are available for a one-time $10 surcharge, in addition to standard driver’s license or ID card fees, to help DMV cover the costs of administering the program.

“At DMV, we serve more and more REAL ID customers every day, but we estimate that there are still far more than one million Virginians who may want to get a REAL ID before these federal changes take effect at the airports,” Commissioner Holcomb said. “Virginians who want to get REAL ID ready can help themselves and DMV in two important ways – by visiting DMV as soon as possible to upgrade their credential before the rush in 2020 and by coming to DMV prepared with the proper documents to make a successful application on their first visit.”

The documents needed to apply for a REAL ID are readily accessible to Virginians and are similar to those needed when individuals applied for their original Virginia driver’s license or ID. All applicants for a REAL ID-compliant credential, including current Virginia credential holders, must apply in person and provide DMV with physical documentation of:  Identity (e.g. Unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate);
 Legal Presence (e.g. unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate);
 Social Security Number (e.g. Social Security card or W-2 form displaying full nine digits);
 Residency – two proofs required and must display name and current Virginia residential street address (e.g. utility bills, mortgage statements, Virginia driver’s license); and
 Proof of any name changes (e.g. marriage certificates or divorce decrees). Note: If the name on your identity document is different than your legal name, you must show proof of your name change. Multiple documents may be necessary if your name has changed more than once. DMV can issue certified copies of Virginia birth and marriage certificates for a fee.

There are a variety of acceptable documents; a complete list is available at You may also use DMV’s interactive document guide.

REAL ID also affects access to secure federal facilities and military bases. Because these facilities have the ability to set their own entry requirements, DMV advises Virginians to verify the identification needed for access prior to their visit. Effective immediately, some military bases may no longer accept non-REALID-compliant credentials displaying “Federal Limits Apply.”

Since REAL ID is optional, some Virginians may decide they don’t want or need one. Those Virginians may continue to use their driver’s license or ID as they always have. The next time they renew their credential, they will receive a license or ID that displays “Federal Limits Apply.” Should they need to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility after October 2020, they may use another federally approved form of ID, such as a U.S. Passport or some military IDs.

“Because so many REAL ID customers will need to visit us between now and October 2020, customers who have other DMV business to conduct should consider DMV’s alternative service options,” Commissioner Holcomb encouraged. “Many popular DMV transactions, such as vehicle registration renewals, can be done at, via the mail, or at one of our DMV Select partners. We’re always happy to serve you in our customer service centers, but we know your time is valuable, and these service options are a great alternative when you don’t need to visit a full-service office.”

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