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REAL ID Documentation Change Is Designed to Help Customers

September 25, 2023 09:00 AM
By: Craig Yetter

​In keeping with Governor Josh Shapiro's commitment to serve Pennsylvanians more effectively and efficiently, PennDOT recently announced that the requirement for proof of Social Security Number for REAL ID products will expand to include additional documents. Per federal regulations, customers wishing to obtain a REAL ID product must present proof of Social Security Number. PennDOT is now expanding acceptable options beyond a Social Security Card.

PennDOT now accepts the following documents as proofs of Social Security Number: 

  • A Social Security Card;
  •  A W-2 form;
  • A SSA-1099 form;
  • A non-SSA-1099 form; 

A pay stub with the applicant's name and full Social Security Number on it.

There have been no changes to the rules surrounding the name, as it appears, on the proof of Social Security Number. The name on the proof must still be the current legal name of the applicant. If the name on the proof does not match the current legal name on their documents, the customer must update their name on the documents and provide an updated proof of Social Security Number in order to apply for a REAL ID.

REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver's licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding a domestic flight or entering a federal building that requires federally acceptable ID upon entry. A federally acceptable form of identification (whether it's a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver's license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used for these purposes on and after May 7, 2025.

There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT continues to offer standard-issue driver's licenses and photo IDs.

To date, PennDOT has issued approximately 2.2 million REAL ID products.

Customers can obtain a REAL ID by presenting documents for verification and processing at any driver license center. Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify the below documents:

  • Proof of Identity: Examples include an original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised/embossed seal or a valid, unexpired, U.S. Passport;
  • Proof of Social Security Number: A Social Security Card, W-2 form, SSA-1099 form, non-SSA-1099 form, or a pay stub with the applicant's name and SSN on it;
  • Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address: Examples include a current, unexpired PA driver's license or identification card, vehicle registration or a utility bill with the same name and address; and 
  • Proof of all Legal Name Changes (if current legal name is different than what is reflected on proof of identity document): Examples include a certified marriage certificate(s) issued by the County Court for each marriage, court order(s) approving a change in legal name or amended birth certificate issued by the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics. If current name is the same as what is reflected on proof of identity document (usually birth certificate or passport), a customer does not need to show proof of legal name changes.

Customers have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product: Customers may order their REAL ID online if they have been pre-verified and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; they can visit any PennDOT Driver License Center that is open for driver license services, have their documents verified and imaged, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days; or they can visit one of 13 REAL ID Centers and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.

For a full list of driver license centers and their services, please visit the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website

When a customer gets their first REAL ID product, they pay a one-time fee of $30, plus the applicable renewal fee (current renewal fee is $39.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver's license, and $42.50 for a photo ID). The expiration date of their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license. This expiration date structure means that customers won't "lose" time that they've already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, customers pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

REAL ID-compliant products are marked with a gold star in the upper right corner, standard-issue (non-compliant) products include the phrase "NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES," per federal regulations. Sample images can be viewed on PennDOT's website.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at PennDOT's REAL ID page. 

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