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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The deadline to get a REAL ID to fly domestically has been extended by roughly two years by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

On Dec. 5, the agency announced the deadline has been extended to May 7, 2025. (The previous deadline was May 3, 2023.) It is the third deadline extension by the DHS. 

The extension was due to backlogs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which state driver’s licensing agencies are still working through, the DHS said in a press release. 

A REAL ID driver’s license is optional but will be required to board domestic flights and to enter federal facilities after the May 7, 2025 deadline, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

What does a California REAL ID look like?  

According to the DMV, a California-issued REAL ID driver’s license or identification card will be marked with a golden bear and star on the top right corner. 

If a driver’s license or ID says “Federal Limits Apply” on the top right corner, it is not a REAL ID, and you will not be able to board a domestic flight and enter a federal facility after the 2025 deadline. A federally-approved identification such as a passport and military ID will be allowed at TSA checkpoints nationwide. 

A graphic created by the California DMV shows the differences between a REAL ID (left) and a non-REAL ID (right). (Photo: CA DMV)

The non-REAL ID may be used as photo identification, but not as evidence of a legal presence in the U.S. and additional documentation may be required, the DMV said. 

As for minors, the DMV says the TSA doesn’t require anyone under the age of 18 to provide their ID when traveling with a companion within the U.S. However, their companion will need a REAL ID, passport, or a DHS Traveler Card. 

According to the DMV, you don’t need a REAL ID for the following: 

  • Apply for or receive federal benefits from organizations, such as Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.
  • Enter a post office, or other secure federal facilities that do not require identification
  • Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
  • Ride Amtrak or other public ground transportation

What is the application process for a California REAL ID

To get a Real ID, Californians can complete their application online and is what you’ll need to know before the process, according to the DMV: 

  • Create or log in to your MyDMV account
  • Have your social security number handy, in addition to basic information such as name, address, and date of birth
  • Allow 30 minutes to complete the application. Applications may be saved for up to one year and be finished later by logging into your MyDMV account
  • After completing the application, you will need to visit a field office to finish the rest of the driver’s license/ID card application process

Required documents can also be uploaded online, but those must be brought to your local DMV office to complete the application. When finishing the application at your local DMV, the agency says customers must provide: 

  • Proof of identity — One original or certified document such as a valid passport or birth certificate. A legal name change document(s) is required if your name on the proof of identity is different from the name on the other documents such as marriage certificate or adoption papers
  • Proof of California residency — Two documents, paper copies such as a utility bill or bank statement
  • Social security number (exceptions may apply)

According to a press release from the DMV, nearly 14.8 million Californians have a REAL ID as of Dec. 5, 2022. The agency said that number is an increase of 198,814 from the previous month. 

“We encourage Californians not to procrastinate getting a Real ID because you’ll still need one if you plan to use your driver’s license or identification card to fly within the U.S. when the new federal requirements take effect,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a statement. “If a REAL ID is on your holiday wish list this year, we’ve made it easy for you to get one. All you have to do is fill out an online application, upload your documents and make a quick trip to the DMV.”