Real ID: What You Need to Know
Latest Update:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted a grace period to January 22, 2018, delaying the requirement for Pennsylvania residents to have a REAL ID-compliant identification to access secure federal facilities. The grace period went into effect October 11, 2017 and was granted to provide additional time for DHS to review PennDOT’s formal extension request that was submitted to DHS in September.

At present, REAL ID enforcement for domestic commercial air travel is also January 22, 2018. Thus, Pennsylvania residents may continue to use their standard driver’s license or photo ID for secure federal facility access and domestic air travel through that date.

DHS has established October 1, 2020 to be the final REAL ID compliance deadline for all states. PennDOT has begun work on the implementation of REAL ID and estimates that REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available in PA, as an option for residents, in March, 2019.

Hopefully, DHS will respond to PennDOT’s extension request prior to January 22, 2018. Please check this tab on my website for updates. At present, if you plan to fly domestically or will require access to secure federal facilities soon after January 22, 2018, you may want to obtain an acceptable alternative ID. For a complete list of other acceptable alternate identifications, please visit the TSA Website. Information on Pennsylvania’s REAL ID, including frequently asked questions, is available at

Pennsylvania’s REAL ID Background Information:

On May 26, 2017, Act 3, the Pennsylvania REAL ID Compliance Act, was signed into law. In drafting the law, the General Assembly provided flexibility for Pennsylvanians to decide whether or not they want to purchase a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card.

Once the federal REAL ID Act is fully implemented, those with Pennsylvania’s REAL ID will be able to use the REAL ID for entry into federal facilities, where enhanced ID is required, and for domestic commercial air travel.

Residents who choose to keep their standard driver’s license or photo ID will be required to have an additional acceptable alternate type of identification, such as a passport or military ID, to board an airplane or enter a secure federal building. This applies both after full implementation of the federal law and in the event that Pennsylvania is not granted any more extensions.

A passport will still be required for international travel.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) does not and will not require children under age 18 to provide an ID when traveling with an adult companion within the United States. The adult companion will need acceptable identification.

Once REAL ID is fully implemented, REAL ID enforcement notices will be posted at federal and military facilities requiring a REAL ID-compliant license or acceptable alternative ID for entrance.

Generally, REAL ID-compliant ID will be needed for entry into nuclear power stations, military installations, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Energy (DOE) offices. Federal buildings NOT likely to post REAL ID enforcement notices include:
    • Federal courthouses (except those with restricted areas or semi-restricted areas).
    • General Services Administration (GSA) buildings with diverse public benefits offices, including immigration services and federal law enforcement agencies.
    • Veterans Administration service centers and health care facilities.
    • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offices.
    • Social Security offices.
    • Post Offices.
    • Department of the Interior Agencies.
    • National parks and monuments.