Californians Have Less Than a Year to Get a Real ID

By Alice Sun
Alice Sun
Alice Sun
July 7, 2022 Updated: July 7, 2022

California residents have less than a year to get their Real ID cards. United States travelers must have the new ID card by May 3, 2023 if they’re planning on using a state-issued ID to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities.

Real ID is a federally accepted form of identification, and in California it’s marked with a gold bear and a star. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security extended the Real ID enforcement deadline from October 2021 to next year—but officials say it’s best to obtain the ID card sooner rather than later.

“There really is no need to wait. It’s easy to start the application online,” Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Director Steve Gordon said in a recent statement. “As May of next year gets closer, those who procrastinate might have to wait in line to be helped at the DMV. Today, you can get an appointment within a day or two at most offices.”

To apply for a Real ID in California, applicants must present an identity documentation that includes the date of birth and full name, along with two forms of proof of California residency. Applicants can submit all required documents and make an appointment by filling out an online application at

As of June 1, around 13.3 million Californians have already obtained their Real ID cards, which is a 208,206 increase from the previous month, according to DMV data.

However, a Real ID is not required for everyone. Those who do not have a Real ID can still fly within the United States and access secure federal facilities and military bases using a valid passport or other federally approved document such as a U.S. passport card, permanent resident card, and more, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Not sure if you need one? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security website includes an interactive tool to help you find out.

Alice Sun