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The line at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Hanford stretches out the door.

Sentinel file photo

Some California drivers have the option to upgrade their driver’s licenses to a REAL ID driver’s license, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The REAL ID is a federal compliant driver’s license or ID card that will be necessary to travel domestically on commercial flights after Oct. 1, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security website states REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulently-obtained driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Based on a recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 and is designed to ensure that people boarding a flight or entering a federal building are who they say they are.

Unless you bring your passport, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not let you through the security checkpoints without a REAL ID after Oct. 1, 2020.

According to a press release from, switching to REAL ID is the biggest change to ID cards and driver’s licenses in years. Steven F. Miller, president and founder of, said the new cards will standardize the ID requirements across all states that currently have various ID standards and make identification more secure and safe.

The Department of Homeland Security stated REAL IDs will establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, including incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who he or she claims to be.

It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and identification cards for access to federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

“The goal of REAL ID is to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards used for federal official purposes,” said the Department of Homeland Security website.

Starting Jan. 22, all California DMV offices began accepting applications for the new REAL ID driver’s license and identification cards.

All states must comply with the new REAL ID requirements, but you can continue to use your state-issued driver’s license or ID to fly in the U.S. until Oct. 1, 2020, so there is no need to rush into a DMV office right away.

A statement from the DMV offices said the ideal time to apply would be at the time of your driver license renewal.

Californians have the choice to apply for a REAL ID driver license or ID card, or renew or apply for a federal non-compliant card.

DMV officials said obtaining a REAL ID would be useful to those who wish to use their driver's licence or ID to board a domestic flight.

After Oct. 1, 2020, only a REAL ID card or other federally approved documents will be accepted to travel domestically, such as a valid U.S. passport, passport card or military ID.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or

News Reporter

News reporter for The Sentinel

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