Ask the DMV: What you need to know about new REAL ID rules

Do you have questions about REAL ID? The DMV has answers! Changes to the deadline, limited-time fee waivers, and a simplified application process have all been recently announced. Read below for details on how to get your REAL ID.

Q: I paid the fee to renew my driver’s license online last year, but offices were closed due to COVID-19, so I couldn’t get a REAL ID. Will I have to pay a fee again to upgrade to the REAL ID this year?

A: No! For a limited time, customers who have recently renewed a driver’s license or identification card that is not federally compliant will be able to upgrade to a REAL ID for free! If you paid a fee to renew a driver’s license or ID card between March 2020 and July 2021, you will qualify but you must act now – the free REAL ID upgrade is only available until the end of the year.

The DMV is offering this free upgrade as a part of their continual efforts to accommodate customers who faced barriers due to COVID-19 so that everyone who is eligible can obtain this next generation of identification. In May 2023, anyone flying domestically, visiting a military base or other federal facility will need a form of federal ID, like a REAL ID, to do so.

The process to get a REAL ID is also easier than ever – it is now possible to begin the REAL ID application and upload your documents online before visiting a DMV office to complete the process. Making your visit at the window 10 minutes or less.

For more information, please visit

Q: Which documents will I need to get a REAL ID?

A: The DMV has made it easier than ever to get a REAL ID. Recently the DMV also announced that you no longer need to supply your social security card – just your social security number. To apply, you will need to provide ONE identity document that includes your date of birth and your full name – like an original or certified birth certificate, or a valid US passport. You’ll also need to provide TWO documents that show your name and address to prove you’re a California resident. You can use cell phone and utilities bills, your mortgage, bank statements, or even your vehicle registration.

You can start your application online today and find a complete step-by-step checklist of all approved documents at If you upload your documents online before visiting a DMV office to complete the process, your time at the window will be 10 minutes or less.

For more information or answers to questions not listed here, please visit


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