Pennsylvania DMV Says Residents Have Until May 3 To Get a REAL ID Drivers License

Mark Hake

Starting May 3, 2023, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license/photo ID card in order to board a commercial flight. This is based on the Pennsylvania DMV REAL ID announcement.

The only way to tell if you have a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or ID is to see if there is a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. It should look like this:

In fact, the REAL ID (which can be in either a driver's license or ID card) allows the holder to not only fly commercially but also enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

The PA DMV gives this time clock below. Essentially you have 25 weeks to get a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or ID. That is less than 6 months away.

If you do not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally-acceptable identification (valid passport, military ID, etc.) to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities after May 3, 2023.

So, for all practical purposes, you might as well get the gold star Driver's license. Here is how Pennsylvania residents can apply.

How to Get a Pennsylvania REAL ID

The PA DMV has a very well-laid-out website showing how to apply for the REAL ID driver's license. Go to this page and scroll down to the section that says, "Prepare for REAL ID - Gather Your Documents."

Federal regulations require that PennDOT must verify original versions or certified copies of the following documents for a customer before issuing a REAL ID:

  • Proof of identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the state office of vital records with a raised/embossed seal — issued by an authorized government agency — or valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or passport card.
  • Proof of Social Security number: Social Security card in current legal name.
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address: Examples include current, unexpired PA license or ID, PA vehicle registration, auto insurance card, or utility bill with the same name and address.
  • Proof of all legal name changes (if applicable): Certified marriage certificate, court order, or divorce decree issued by your county's family court.

Non-US Citizens in Pennsylvania Can Still Apply

If you are not a US citizen (but here lawfully), you still can apply for a REAL ID, with the following:

  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Card (EAD) issued by DHS; Forms I-766 or Form 1-688B
  • Valid, Unexpired Permanent Resident Card I-551 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) Issued by DHS or INS
  • Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired U.S. visa affixed, and an I-94 indicating temporary evidence of permanent residence.

Some non-U.S. citizens may be required to present additional documentation. Additional information for non-U.S. citizens can be found on PennDOT's REAL ID Information for non-U.S. Citizens page.

The bottom line is that everyone can apply to get a REAL ID - either as a driver's license or as an ID card - but both must have a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. That way the holder can get on commercial flights starting May 3.

Don't Procrastinate

The point of this article is to make sure that you take of this now - well in advance of the rush starting next spring when people wake up and realize they don't have a REAL ID driver's license.

There could be a long line and it could take weeks to get an appointment for this. This way, by taking care of this before the end of 2022, Pennsylvanians can avoid the last-minute rush at the DMV.


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Mark R. Hake, CFA, writes articles on national and local news, stocks, and market events at,,, and as well as TalkMarkets.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ

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