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PennDot answers most-asked questions about REAL ID on Facebook Live

Wednesday afternoon, PennDot officials hosted a Facebook Live discussion to clarify misconceptions and answer questions about REAL ID-compliant cards as the department prepares to begin issuing new cards in March.

An example of REAL ID card in Kentucky.
An example of REAL ID card in Kentucky.Read moreStock image

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.

Do I need a REAL ID?

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.

How much will a REAL ID cost?

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.

So will I have two cards: one driver’s license/state ID and one REAL ID card?

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.

What if I just renewed my current ID card or will renew it before PennDot begins issuing REAL IDs in March?

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.

Why doesn’t PennDot just stop issuing current IDs and driver’s licenses and only issue REAL ID cards?

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.

I’ve seen two deadlines for REAL ID thrown around recently: August 2019 and October 2020. What’s the deadline I should remember?

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.

If Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, why hasn’t Pennsylvania been issuing REAL ID cards already?

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.

I applied months ago for PennDot to pre-verify my identifying documents to speed the process of getting a REAL ID next year. Why don’t I know yet whether I’m pre-verified?

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.)

Do you have other questions about REAL ID? Write them in the comments or send an email.