PennDot officials hosted a Facebook Live discussion Wednesday afternoon in an effort to clarify misconceptions and answer questions about REAL ID-compliant cards as the department prepares to begin issuing new cards in March. In two years, Pennsylvania's ID cards and driver's licenses will no longer be sufficient to get residents onto domestic flights or into secure federal buildings. Residents will need either passports or REAL ID-compliant cards with uniform security standards.
Here are some of the most-asked questions during the discussion, and the answers.
If you have a passport and don't mind bringing it whenever you fly, no. If you will never board a domestic flight or have a reason to enter a secure federal building (We're not talking post offices here.), then no. If you have a U.S. military ID, no. Check PennDot's website for questions to ask yourself to decide whether you need a REAL ID.
Your first REAL ID will cost $60.50 That's a one-time fee of $30 plus PennDot's $30.50 fee it charges for all ID card renewals.
No. If you choose to get a REAL ID card, it will replace your current driver's license or ID. A gold star in the corner will mark the card as REAL ID-compliant.
Remaining time on current cards will roll over onto your first REAL ID. So say your driver's license expired in September and you renewed it. If you get a REAL ID card in March, that ID will last four years plus your remaining time. That's a total of about seven-and-a-half years.
Some states do exclusively issue REAL ID cards. Pennsylvania law says PennDot must offer both types of cards and residents have to opt in if they want REAL ID-compliant ones.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted Pennsylvania an extension until Aug. 1, 2019 to comply with the REAL ID Act. Fifteen states currently have extensions. That includes New Jersey, which has until Oct. 10, 2019.
Ignore those deadlines. Oct. 1, 2020 is the deadline you need to know. Starting that day, you will need either a passport or a REAL ID-compliant card to board domestic flights or enter secure federal buildings. PennDot will begin issuing cards in March.
The Department of Homeland Security gave the new REAL ID Act regulations to the states in 2009, which is when Pennsylvania began looking to comply, according to PennDot. But lawmakers with concerns about privacy passed a law that prohibited PennDot from complying with the federal REAL ID Act. Legislators repealed that law in May 2017.
PennDot staff manually checks customers' records document by document, which has created a backlog in processing the thousands of applications the department has received, PennDot officials said. The department is asking people to be patient. (You can't get a REAL ID in Pennsylvania until the department begins to issue them in March, anyway. And you don't need the REAL ID until 2020.)