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Californians Can Apply For New 'REAL IDs' Starting Monday

California Department of Motor Vehicles / Courtesy

California Department of Motor Vehicles / Courtesy

Drivers who want to continue to use their California licenses to board airplanes after 2020 can apply for new, federally-required IDs starting Jan. 22.

Congress passed a law, called REAL ID, in the years after 9/11. It tightens security features required for state IDs and licenses across the country. If states don’t incorporate those features, federal agents—such as TSA agents at the airport—will not accept the IDs.

Californians can still use their current IDs at airports until 2020.

Jessica Gonzalez of the California Department of Motor Vehicles says California’s current driver’s licenses largely comply, but it still must issue new ones.

“It’s kind of like you have to reestablish your identity with the DMV, because the federal requirements are that you actually have to physically bring in these three pieces of identification to apply for the card,” Gonzalez says.

The DMV has a list of those three pieces of identification on its website.

All newly-issued driver’s licenses will also come with a different look, regardless of whether they are REAL ID compliant.

“You’ll notice there will be a gold miner in the bottom right-hand corner, also California poppies in the left side,” Gonzalez says. “Also, a number of features that can be seen under UV light: The Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower. The cardholder’s photo and birth date will glow, as well.”

Gonzalez says dozens of DMV offices will be open on Saturdays in anticipation of larger crowds.

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