Changes are coming to California’s driver’s licenses. The Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, established federal guidelines for state driver’s licenses. Since then, states have been working to bring their licenses up to the new standards.

The Real ID Act

The Real ID Act is the result of a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission Report. It is designed to set federal security standards for state identification accepted by federal agencies.

Driver’s licenses that don’t comply with the Real ID Act are still valid as driver’s licenses. However, they will no longer be acceptable as identification used to enter federally-controlled areas. These areas include military bases, nuclear powerplants and—most importantly for many—commercial aircraft.

So after the deadlines have passed, you can still use a non-compliant license to drive your car, but you won’t be able to use it to board a plane.


The deadline for air travel is January 22, 2018. Many states will not be able to meet this deadline and have requested an extension. California is among these states.

California, along with the other states granted an extension, will have until October 1, 2020, to comply with the Real ID Act.

After this deadline, anyone without a Real ID Act compliant driver’s license will need to provide an alternate form of identification, such as a passport, to board a commercial airplane.

ID Requirements

Because the Real ID Act is supposed to increase identification standards to improve national security, getting one will require some extra paperwork. When applying for a Real ID compliant license in the future, you’ll need to bring in proof of the following:

  • your identity (for example, your birth certificate or passport)
  • your Social Security number (for example, your Social Security card)
  • your residency (two documents that show your home address)

Non-compliant IDs

Even once a state begins to issue compliant licenses, it’s possible that some licenses will not be compliant.

According to the Homeland Security website, the Real ID Act is a mandate on federal agencies, but compliance among states is voluntary. Also, states have the option of continuing to issue non-compliant licenses that are clearly marked as such. Some states are giving applicants the option of selecting compliant or non-compliant IDs.

Again, non-compliant licenses are still valid for driving purposes.  The changes only affect your ability to board a plane or enter other federally controlled areas. As always, Dashers Insurance will keep you informed as this new law rolls out, and we’ll keep you safe with the best California auto insurance!