Application to obtain REAL ID available online

A path for Pennsylvanians to obtain REAL ID-compliant identification is opening.

But it’s going to take some time.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005, was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission’s “recommendation that the Federal Government ‘set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.'”

In short, the act established baseline security standards for identification, which the federal government has required in order to gain access to federal buildings and board commercial flights.

The current online application for pre-verification opened on Thursday.

But it’s only open to people who obtained their first driver’s license or photo ID card after September 2003.

According to PennDOT, the department may already “have electronic documents on file for approximately 35 percent of its total customers, individuals who received their first PA driver’s license or ID card after September 2003.”

“Starting today, PennDOT will begin sending postcards to eligible customers inviting them to visit PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website to request that PennDOT confirm their documents are on file,” the department explained. “PennDOT customers without internet access may call PennDOT’s Customer Call Center at 717-412-5300 or visit a PennDOT Online Messenger for assistance with pre-verification.”

Once the pre-verification process is complete, “PennDOT staff will review the customer’s record and verify which documents are on file.

The customer will receive follow-up communication from PennDOT regarding the status of their application. Customers are not pre-verified until they have completed the online pre-verification process and received confirmation from PennDOT that all documents are on file.”

PennDOT will then mark the customer’s record as verified.

“And after REAL ID products are available in Spring 2019, the customer can opt into the REAL ID program online, pay the one-time $30 fee, plus their renewal fee (the REAL ID product will include any time left on the current license plus the period of renewal) and their REAL ID product will be sent through the mail, eliminating any need for this customer to visit a Driver License Center.”

If a pre-verification check reveals that not all documents are on file, PennDOT said that people will have to bring those documents into a driver’s license center starting in September for “in-person pre-verification.”

“REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. A federally-accepted form of identification (whether it’s the forthcoming Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building on and after October 1, 2020.”