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140K pre-verify for REAL ID, PennDOT says

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Ted S. Warren/AP
The federal government's REAL ID act requires state driver's licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and be issued to people who can prove they're legally in the United States.

About 140,000 Pennsylvania residents have pre-verified for REAL ID, PennDOT announced Tuesday.

Pre-verification will allow state residents to apply for REAL ID online once they are available in March, and get their REAL ID driver’s license or photo identification card in the mail.

A REAL ID is optional for state residents, but it, a U.S. Passport or a military identification will be required to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building as of Oct. 1, 2020.

Those who got their first Pennsylvania driver’s license or identification card after September 2003 have been able to apply for REAL ID pre-verification online since March 2018 because PennDOT has the required documents on file.

But the majority who got their first licenses or identifications before September 2003 will need to bring the required documents to a driver’s license center so they can be verified in-person, PennDOT says.

To receive a REAL-ID compliant product, PennDOT says it must verify original versions or certified copies of:

• Proof of identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal or valid U.S. Passport.

• Proof of social security number: Social security card.

• Two proof of current physical Pennsylvania address: Current, unexpired Pennsylvania license or identification, current vehicle registration, auto insurance card, utility bill.

• Proof of all legal name changes, if current full legal name is different than what’s reflected on proof of identity document: Certified marriage certificate or court order issued by family court.

When REAL IDs are available in March 2019, residents can opt into the REAL ID program online and the identification will be sent through the mail, eliminating any need for a resident to visit a driver license center, PennDOT said.

The cost of a REAL ID is a one-time $30 fee, plus a renewal fee, currently $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license or photo identification.

The expiration date of the initial REAL ID will include any time remaining on an existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, except for those over age 65 who have a two-year license.

“This expiration date structure means that the customer won’t ‘lose’ time that they’ve already paid for,” PennDOT said. “After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.”

When REAL IDs are available, there will be three options for getting one:

• Pre-verified customers may order their REAL ID online.

• Visiting a PennDOT driver’s license center, have their documents verified and imaged, pay the one-time fee, and their REAL ID will be mailed to them within 15 business days.

• Visiting one of up to 13 REAL ID centers and get a REAL ID over-the-counter at the time of service.

Six driver’s license centers — in Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Rockview in Centre County, Erie, Altoona and South 70th Street in Philadelphia — are being retrofitted to allow for issuing REAL IDS over-the-counter. Five new locations in Pittsburgh, King of Prussia, Allentown, Harrisburg and Lancaster are being added and expected to open by March, PennDOT said.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.