DMV to offer optional REAL ID in October

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Starting Oct. 1 of this year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will offer Virginians the option to upgrade their current Virginia driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID compliant credential. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, federal officials will require state-issued driver’s licenses or IDs presented as identification to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility to be REAL ID compliant. Several other forms of ID, including a U.S. passport, passport card and some military IDs, will also be accepted for federal identification.

Until Oct. 1, 2020, Virginians are able to use their current Virginia driver’s license or ID as identification to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility. That gives Virginians interested in REAL ID two years to obtain their credential before federal requirements take effect.

First-time applicants will also have the choice between a REAL ID compliant or standard credential. To obtain a REAL ID compliant credential, all Virginians, even those who have been licensed here for decades, must visit a DMV in person to reapply for a REAL ID. This step in the process is mandated by federal law.

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The documents needed to apply for a REAL ID are readily accessible to most Virginians and are similar to those needed when many applied for their original Virginia driver’s license or ID.

Many Virginians will bring their U.S. birth certificate or unexpired U.S. passport or passport card; their Social Security card or payroll check stub; and two utility bills or one utility bill and one mortgage statement or rental agreement or lease — for a total of four documents.

If your legal name is different than the name on your birth certificate or passport, you must also bring documents, like a marriage certificate or divorce decree, to show the change in name.

Virginia’s REAL ID compliant driver’s license or ID will look exactly like a current credential except for a small star in the upper right corner which signifies it meets federal requirements.

“To make your visit as simple as possible, we encourage you to make sure you have the necessary documents in order now,” Commissioner of DMV Richard D. Holcomb stated in a press release. “This will give you plenty of time to obtain extra documents if necessary and will ensure that you can successfully complete your application on your first visit. And, those who want to further shorten their trip should consider visiting us in mid-2019 when we expect the initial demand for REAL ID to begin to decrease.”

A REAL ID compliant credential can be used for all of the same purposes as a current driver’s license — including driving, voting and accessing federal benefits.

It will be available for a one-time $10 surcharge, in addition to standard fees.

Since REAL ID is optional, many Virginians may decide they don’t want or need one. Those Virginians may continue to renew their driver’s license or ID as they always have. Should they need to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility, they may use another approved form of ID; a full list is available at

REAL ID compliant credentials will be marked with a small star in the upper right corner. If you choose to keep your current style of credential, you will receive a driver’s license or ID marked “Federal Limits Apply” the next time you renew or request a replacement, in order to comply with federal requirements.

For more information about REAL ID, visit