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Example of a REAL ID driver's license. REAL ID cards can be identified by the yellow star on the top right corner of the card.

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. citizens have six months until federal enforcement of REAL ID begins for commercial domestic air travel and other federal purposes. Pennsylvanians who wish to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or photo ID card should prepare their required documents as soon as possible in order to get a REAL ID ahead of the enforcement date.

To date, PennDOT has issued about 1.1 million REAL ID cards.

REAL ID is a federal law that will affect how states issue driver's licenses and ID cards that will be used for purposes such as boarding domestic flights and entering federal buildings that require federally-accepted ID. Other federally-accepted forms of identification include valid U.S. Passports and military IDs.

PennDOT will continue offering standard-issue licenses and ID cards.

“Although October may seem far away right now, we encourage our customers who want a REAL ID to get one as soon as possible,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We continue to focus on providing the best possible customer service to all of our customers as the federal deadline approaches.”

The enforcement of the REAL ID law was originally intended to begin on October 1, 2020, but was postponed until October 1, 2021 due to COVID-19.

"We want to do everything we can to encourage residents interested in applying for a REAL ID to start the process now and be aware of all the proper documentation needed," said Gramian. "This will help ensure our customers have their REAL ID well in advance of the October 1, 2021 deadline."

Pennsylvanians 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 card, PennDOT must verify the below documents:

Proof of Identity: Examples include original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised seal/embossed or valid, unexpired, U.S. Passport;

Proof of Social Security Number: Social security card, in current legal name;

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.

To obtain a REAL ID card, Pennsylvanians may order online if they have been pre-verified and a card will be mailed within 15 business days. REAL ID cards may also be acquired at any PennDOT driver's license center that is open for license services. After visiting the license center and having documents verified and imaged, a REAL ID will be mailed within 15 business days. To receive an immediate REAL ID card, visit one of 13 REAL ID centers.

When acquiring a first REAL ID, there will be a one-time fee of $30 plus an applicable renewal fee (currently $30 for a four-year non-commercial driver's license). The expiration date of the REAL ID card will include any time remaining on an existing non-REAL ID card, plus an additional four years unless the cardholder has a two-year license.

This expiration date structure means that the customer won’t “lose” time that they already paid for. After the initial REAL ID expires, only regular renewal fees will apply.

REAL ID cards are marked with a gold star in the upper right corner. Non-REAL ID cards will be marked with "NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES."

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.