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Frequently asked questions: REAL ID

What is REAL ID?

It's a federal law passed in 2005 to help reduce fraud by improving ID documents.

What does this law mean for me?

On May 7, 2025, the REAL ID law takes effect nationwide.

  • This law limits access to airports, federal buildings, and military bases.
  • Standard Washington ID cards and driver licenses won't work for air travel or accessing federal facilities.
  • You may already have what you need or you may need a new ID. You have options. Passports, military IDs, and Green cards will work. So will DOL's enhanced driver licenses and enhanced ID cards.
  • If you have a current standard driver license or ID card you don't have to do anything until it expires unless you plan to travel by air and don't have an alternative document such as a passport.

Will DOL still offer standard driver's licenses and ID cards?

Yes, we'll continue to offer standard driver licenses and ID cards that can be used by Washington residents to drive, or serve as identification. They don't indicate a person's residency, or legal status. However, beginning May 7, 2025, they will no longer be accepted as valid forms for ID for boarding domestic flights.

What is an enhanced driver license (EDL) or enhanced identification (EID)?

An EDL or EID is a form of identification with enhanced security features that shows proof of identity and proof of citizenship. An EDL/EID meets federal requirements under REAL ID, and is an approved alternative to a passport for re-entry into the U.S. at land and sea borders between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.

Who can get an EDL or EID?

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen and provide proof of citizenship, proof of identity, social security number, and proof of residency in Washington.

Do I have to get an enhanced driver license or ID?

If you don't plan to fly domestically, or already have a passport or one of many other acceptable identity documents, you may not need the EDL or EID. The standard driver license will continue to serve as a permit to drive and your standard ID will continue to serve as a valid form of identification within the state.

Is it true you will be marking driver licenses and ID cards that don't comply with REAL ID? What is the process for this?

We started marking standard driver licenses and ID cards with the language, "Federal limits Apply", in July 2018.

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