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What Washington state residents need to know about REAL ID

The deadline for airline passengers and visitors to some federal facilities to get a REAL ID-compliant document is May 3, 2023.

SEATAC, Wash. — By May 3, 2023, anyone taking a domestic flight or visiting certain federal facilities must use a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or ID card

"REAL ID" itself is a federal law, not a specific ID card, so there are multiple options for Washington residents to choose from. The Washington State Department of Licensing setup a website to help residents navigate the process.

What is a REAL ID?

There are several options that meet the residency and proof of identity requirements, including a Washington state enhanced driver's license and a passport.

Where will I need a REAL ID compliant document?

You will need a REAL ID compliant to fly, and you may need one to visit military bases like Joint Base Lewis-McChord. You do not need one to drive or ride a bus or train, or to visit national parks or social security offices.

"Federal agencies, including DHS and TSA, may only accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards as identification for purposes of accessing federal facilities, including TSA airport security checkpoints, if the license or card was issued by a REAL ID compliant state in accordance with the REAL ID security standards (meaning the license or card must include the REAL ID compliant star marking)," according to the Department of Homeland Security. "Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) issued by Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont are considered acceptable alternatives to REAL ID-compliant cards and will also be accepted for official REAL ID purposes. Most EDLs do not contain the star marking and this is acceptable."

What are the options for WA residents to be REAL ID compliant?

Here is a full list of compliant documents, according to the Department of Homeland Security

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

"We really encourage Washington residents to start planning now and find out the type of ID that will work for you," said Washington Department of Licensing spokesperson Christine Anthony. "If you're planning to go overseas or visit a foreign country in the next five years, a passport may be your best option. If you only plan to fly domestically and you don't have a Real ID document, you may want to check into getting the enhanced driver's license or ID card."

Will my normal WADOL driver's license work?

A basic driver's license will not count. An enhanced driver's license will.

Is the WADOL expecting a surge in appointments, and how can people secure one?

"We have seen a slight uptick in the number of people who want to get the enhanced licensed or ID card and we certainly expect that demand to go up as we get closer to the federal deadline," Anthony said.

The department of licensing options for many renewal appointments are now available online, hopefully freeing up some appointment space. But the department still advises to act on EDL appointments early, if you want one.

There have been many delays in the past. Do I really need to get one by the deadline?

The deadline is still May 3, 2023.

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