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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is a REAL ID driver's license or identification card (DL/ID) mandatory
No. A REAL ID DL/ID is optional. You have a choice.

If you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, military ID or other federally approved identification, you may use it as your primary form of identification to board a domestic flight or to enter military bases or secure federal facilities. If you will not be boarding a domestic flight or entering a military base or secure federal facility, you DO NOT NEED a REAL ID DL/ID.

You DO NOT NEED a REAL ID DL/ID to do any of the following: (Please note this list only includes some examples.)

2. What documents do I need to apply for a REAL ID DL/ID card?
To apply for a REAL ID DL/ID, you need to provide the following

  1. Proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or lawful status.Bring in one of the following documents: an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate; a U.S. passport or passport card; an Employment Authorization Document, Form I-766; a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551; or an unexpired foreign passport with affixed visa and approved Form I-94. For a complete list, please view the Acceptable Identification Documents Chart.
  2. Proof of full Social Security number (SSN). Bring in one of the following documents: a Social Security card; W-2; pay stub or printed electronic deposit receipt bearing your name and full SSN; SSA-1099 Form; or Non-SSA-1099 Form. Original documents are required.
  3. Two (2) residency documents. This includes documents such as a utility bill, rental agreement, mortgage bill or medical document. Hard copy documents are required. Images from a cellphone are not accepted, but you may print the image (ex: bank statement) and provide the printed copy. For a complete list, please view the Acceptable Identification Documents Chart.
  4. Proof of signature. This includes documents such as credit/debit card, cancelled check or current Illinois DL/ID. For a complete list, please view the Acceptable Identification Documents Chart.

IMPORTANT: If your identity document is in a different name, you will need to provide a certified name change document such as a marriage license, divorce decree or court document. Photocopies will not be accepted. Multiple name change documents might be required if your name has changed multiple times.

Example one: Your birth certificate is in the name of Jane Jones. Your current name is Jane Wilson as the result of a marriage. You need to bring certified copies of your birth certificate and your marriage certificate.

Example two: Your birth certificate is in the name of Lisa Mitchell. You married Mr. Smith and took the name Lisa Smith. You divorced Mr. Smith. You married Mr. Hopkins and took the name Lisa Hopkins, which is your current name. You need to bring certified copies of your birth certificate, your marriage certificate in the name of Lisa Smith, your divorce decree, and your marriage certificate in the name of Lisa Hopkins.

3. Do I need to get a REAL ID DL/ID card right away?
No. There is no need to rush to a Driver Services facility. Valid Illinois DL/IDs will be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to board domestic flights and by federal agents to enter military bases and secure federal facilities until October 1, 2020. If you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, military ID or other federally approved identification, you may continue to use it as your form of identification after October 1, 2020.

IMPORTANT: When planning a visit to a federal facility/military base, contact the facility to determine what identification is accepted.

4. My DL/ID expires before October 1, 2020. What should I do?
Know your options. Valid Illinois DL/IDs will be accepted by the TSA to board a domestic flight and by federal agents to enter military bases and secure federal facilities until October 1, 2020. If you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card, military ID or other federally approved identification, you may use it as your form of identification for federal purposes.

The easiest way to apply for a REAL ID DL/ID is upon renewal (if your DL/ID expires prior to October 1, 2020). If your DL/ID expires after October 1, 2020, and you do not have a U.S. passport or passport card, military ID or other federally approved identification AND you need to fly domestically or enter a military base or secure federal facility, you will need to visit a Driver Services facility before October 1, 2020, to obtain a Real ID DL/ID.

5. Where do I go to apply for a REAL ID DL/ID card?
Beginning spring 2019, you can visit any of the full service Secretary of State Driver Services facilities throughout the state. Express facilities are not offering REAL DL/IDs. Please make sure you bring the federally required documents (see question 2).

6. Will I be able to renew my DL/ID by mail or online through the Safe Driver Renewal program and still receive a REAL ID DL/ID?
No. To apply for a REAL ID DL/ID, you will need to visit a Driver Services facility and provide documents verifying your identity, Social Security number, residency and signature. Once you have a REAL ID DL/ID, you will be able to renew by mail or online if you qualify for the Safe Driver Renewal program.

7. Why do I have to provide my birth certificate and Social Security number again when I did this when I first applied for my DL/ID?
Since this is a federal mandate, federal law requires that all applicants applying for a REAL ID DL/ID submit documents showing date of birth and Social Security number. This is the standard in all 50 states.

8. How much does a REAL ID DL/ID cost?
The fees for a REAL ID DL/ID are the same as those currently charged for standard DL/ID. For a list of fees, please visit the Driver's Licence Basic Fees page.

9. Can I use my current DL/ID to board a domestic flight?
Yes. Valid Illinois DL/IDs will be accepted by the TSA to board domestic flights until October 1, 2020. After that date, you must have a REAL ID DL/ID, U.S. passport or passport card, military ID or other federally approved document to board domestic flights. For more information on documentation that TSA agents will accept, visit www.TSA.gov.

10. Will a minor need a REAL ID DL/ID to board a domestic flight?
The TSA does not require children under the age of 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification. For a current list, please visit TSA's website at www.TSA.gov.

If the minor is traveling alone, he or she will need a REAL ID DL/ID to board a domestic flight on or after October 1, 2020.

Note: For international travel (outside the United States), the TSA requires valid U.S. passports for travelers of all ages.

11. Will the TSA accept identity documents other than REAL ID DL/IDs?
Yes. . Some examples of federally approved identification that the TSA will accept include a valid U.S. passport, U.S. passport card or military ID. For a current list, please visit TSA's website at www.TSA.gov.

12. Is a REAL ID DL/ID a different form of identification than the standard Illinois DL/ID?
Yes. A REAL ID DL/ID is a federally approved card that can be used to board an airplane for domestic travel and to enter military bases and secure federal facilities after October 1, 2020. The REAL ID DL/ID has a gold star in the upper right corner. To apply for a REAL ID DL/ID, applicants must provide additional documents confirming identity, Social Security number, residency and signature. The Secretary of State's office will scan these documents as part of the federally required verification process. Both the REAL ID DL/ID and standard DL/ID may be used for driving and identification.

13. If I don't apply for a REAL ID DL/ID, what card will I receive?
You will receive a standard DL/ID with the words "Federal Limits Apply" displayed near the top of the DL/ID. This card might be best for someone who does not fly or visit military bases or secure federal facilities. This card might also be best for someone who has a valid U.S. passport, U.S. passport card or military ID to use for federal purposes such as flying and visiting military bases and secure federal facilities.

IMPORTANT: The standard DL/ID may be used to board domestic flights or visit military bases or secure federal facilities until October 1, 2020.

14. May I use my REAL ID DL/ID for international travel?
The Illinois REAL ID DL/ID may be used for domestic travel within the United States. If you are traveling internationally (outside the United States), you must have a valid U.S. passport or passport card. For specific international travel information, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/card.html

15. I recently received an updated DL/ID with the new design. Is this a REAL ID DL/ID?
If the card does not have a gold star in the upper right corner, it is not a REAL ID DL/ID. The DL/ID you received does contain the upgraded security features that meet many federal requirements, but you must supply federally mandated identity documents to apply for a REAL ID DL/ID. These documents include:

  1. Proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or lawful status. Bring in one of the following documents: an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate; a U.S. passport or passport card; an Employment Authorization Document, Form I-766; a Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551; or an unexpired foreign passport with affixed visa and approved Form I-94. For a complete list, please view the Acceptable Identification Documents Chart
  2. Proof of full Social Security number (SSN). Bring in one of the following documents: a Social Security card; W-2; pay stub or printed electronic deposit receipt bearing your name and full SSN; SSA-1099 Form; or Non-SSA-1099 Form. Original documents are required.
  3. Two (2) residency documents. This includes documents such as a utility bill, rental agreement, mortgage bill or medical document. Hard copy documents are required. Images from a cellphone are not accepted, but you may print the image (ex: bank statement) and provide the printed copy. For a complete list, please view the Acceptable Identification Documents Chart
  4. Proof of signature. This includes documents such as credit/debit card, canceled check or current Illinois DL/ID. For a complete list, please view the Acceptable Identification Documents Chart

IMPORTANT: If your identity document is in a different name, you will need to provide a certified name change document such as a marriage license, divorce decree or court document. Photocopies will not be accepted. Multiple name change documents may be needed if your name has changed multiple times.

Example one: Your birth certificate is in the name of Jane Jones. Your current name is Jane Wilson as the result of a marriage. You need to bring certified copies of your birth certificate and your marriage certificate.

Example two: Your birth certificate is in the name of Lisa Mitchell. You married Mr. Smith and took the name Lisa Smith. You divorced Mr. Smith. You married Mr. Hopkins and took the name Lisa Hopkins, which is your current name. You need to bring certified copies of your birth certificate, your marriage certificate in the name of Lisa Smith, your divorce decree, and your marriage certificate in the name of Lisa Hopkins.

16. I have booked a domestic flight on or after October 1, 2020, and need a REAL ID DL/ID; when should I visit a Driver Services facility to apply for the REAL ID DL/ID?
If you have made or are making flight plans for a date on or after October 1, 2020, and you need a REAL ID DL/ID (and you do not have a valid U.S. passport, U.S. passport card or military ID), we recommend that you apply for the REAL ID DL/ID at least 60 days before your flight. The temporary secure paper DL/ID will not be accepted as identification to board a domestic flight or to enter a military base or secure federal facility after October 1, 2020.

17. How long are REAL ID DL/ID cards valid?
REAL ID DLs are valid for the same length of time as standard DLs.

REAL ID identification cards issued to applicants 65 or older will expire in eight years. REAL ID disabled ID cards will expire in eight years. All other REAL ID identification cards are valid for the same length of time as standard ID cards.

18. What residency documents are required if an applicant is homeless?
Per an exception process, a homeless applicant may submit an Illinois Homeless Status Certification to prove residency. These applicants must still provide proof of identity, Social Security number and signature.

19. When’s the drop-dead date to update to a REAL ID if I fly domestically?
It is recommended that you apply 60 days before a U.S. flight that occurs on or after Oct. 1, 2020.

20. What if I don’t drive but plan to fly within the U. S.?
You may apply for a REAL ID identification card. These can be obtained or renewed to achieve REAL ID status with the same documentation required for driver’s licenses.

21. I hate flying and will never board a plane. Must I do anything special when I renew my license?
Applicants can chose between REAL ID and standard licenses. You don’t need extra documents for the standard DL/ID. At the facility, you’ll get a temporary, secure paper DL/ID while the paperwork is being processed. The new DL/ID card that comes in the mail within 15 business days, will also say “Federal Limits Apply,” meaning it can’t be used at airports or secure federal facilities for ID after Oct. 1, 2020.

22. Can I use REAL ID for international flights?
No, in cases of international travel, you must use a passport.