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Apply for a REAL ID

Use our online document guide to make your DMV visit a breeze!

REAL ID header

What is REAL ID?

A REAL ID is an optional, upgraded version of your driver’s license or ID card that has a star in the right corner.

Beginning May 3, 2023, the federal government will require you to present a REAL ID compliant driver's license or ID card, or another federally approved form of ID, in order to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility or military base.

Since REAL ID is optional in Virginia, you may not need one if you already have another federally accepted form of ID, like a valid U.S. passport or military ID, or don’t travel by plane. However, if you do want one, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Standard License vs REAL ID License

Applicable Uses Standard License REAL ID License
Driving Yes Yes
Voting or registering to vote Yes Yes
Verifying identity at banks, utility companies, and retail stores Yes Yes
Applying for or receiving federal benefits Yes Yes
Accessing health or life preserving services Yes Yes
Entering federal facilities requiring ID* No Yes
Accessing military bases* No Yes
Boarding domestic flights beginning Oct. 1, 2021 No Yes

* Secure federal facilities and military bases have the authority to set their own identification requirements. Please verify requirements prior to your visit. Effective immediately, some military bases may no longer accept non-REAL ID compliant credentials, which display “Federal Limits Apply.”

How to Apply for a REAL ID

To apply for a REAL ID, you can either replace or renew your driver’s license or ID card with one that is REAL ID compliant. You can apply in person at any DMV customer service center. [Highlight box] If you’re an existing DMV customer, you can start your application online, then visit any DMV to submit the proper documents and fees. [/Highlight box]

There are many documents you can provide, so use DMV’s Online Document Guide or View the full document list.

Bring one from this category:

  • e.g., unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate

Bring one from this category:

  • e.g., Social Security card or W-2 form displaying full number

Bring two from this category:

  • e.g., valid Virginia driver’s license, recent utility bills, mortgage statement, or rental lease agreements displaying current residential street address, not a P.O. Box. Note: You may redact (blackout/whiteout) sensitive financial information.

Name changes:
If your name appears differently on your proof documents, you will be asked to present additional documentation to connect the names, such as a marriage certificate filed with a government agency or court, divorce decree, or court order. Note: Marriage licenses, civil union documents, and marriage certificates signed only by the wedding officiant (for example, a member of the clergy) will NOT be accepted. See REAL ID FAQs for more information.

Note: All documents must be originals and will be subject to verification; however, printouts of acceptable online residency documents can be used as proof of residency. Temporary documents and photocopies of documents will not be accepted.

Virginia DMV does not have a process by which customers can pre-scan and upload REAL ID documents from home. In order to get a REAL ID, you must bring your documents to Virginia DMV for review. Any website claiming to provide this service is not affiliated with Virginia DMV. As such, customers should not submit any images of personal documents to such websites as they will not be transmitted to Virginia DMV and could be used for fraudulent purposes. Customers may fill out a REAL ID application in advance; however, this process will not ask you to scan and upload documents.

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Suzy Q & A Explains the Online Document Guide

 Suzy Q & A & the Document Guide

About Your REAL ID Credential

REAL ID credentials are available for a one-time $10 fee, in addition to the standard driver’s license or identification card fees. For example, a standard driver’s license renewal costs $32, while a standard driver’s license replacement costs $20.

In the upper right corner, REAL ID compliant credentials display a star, while non-REAL ID compliant credentials instead display “Federal Limits Apply,” in order to comply with federal law.

image of standard license
Standard License
image of REAL ID license
REAL ID License
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How to Apply for a REAL ID

You must visit DMV in-person to apply for a REAL ID. Customers can visit any DMV customer service center or take advantage of DMV's mobile operations to apply.

However, if you are an existing customer and want to upgrade to REAL ID, you can start your REAL ID application online. This easy and efficient process will also help you select which documents to bring to DMV. Start your application now.

After you’ve received your first REAL ID compliant credential, you may renew online according to the standard schedule.

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Additional Information

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