What You Should Know about Washington’s REAL ID Compliance

[Resource links below in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese]

UPDATE 3/27/2020: The Department of Homeland Security announced 3/26/2020 that enforcement of the REAL ID Act has been delayed until October 1, 2021. This is due to closures of the DOL offices during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

ACTUALIZACIÓN 27/03/2020: El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional anunció el 26/03/2020 que la aplicación de la Ley REAL ID se ha retrasado hasta el 1 de octubre de 2021. Esto se debe al cierre de las oficinas del DOL durante la pandemia de COVID-19.

As of July 1, the Washington Department of Licensing has begun issuing driver licenses and IDs that comply with federal REAL ID Act requirements. For now, the only change Washington residents will notice is that newly issued Standard Driver Licenses and IDs will have the marking “Federal Limits Apply.” This new marking will have no impact until October of 2020.

Beginning on October 1, 2021, Washington residents with Standard Driver Licenses and IDs will need to present a federally approved form of ID, such as a passport or permanent resident card, when traveling by air or entering certain federal buildings.

The Washington Department of Licensing has issued their ID2020 Campaign with videos and fact sheets to educate residents on the upcoming changes. Washington will continue to offer two types of driver licenses and IDs – Standard and Enhanced. Here are the differences between the two and what you should know when deciding which option is right for you.

Enhanced Driver License and Identification Card

Only U.S. Citizens are eligible to obtain an Enhanced Driver License or ID. This card is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act and can be used for all domestic travel, travel to Canada, and entering federal buildings. However, this option is more expensive than the standard licenses and IDs. The Enhanced Driver License costs $78, while the Standard Driver License costs only $54. If you already have a valid passport or other federally approved ID, you can save money by using these other forms of ID for air travel and entry to federal buildings. 

Standard Driver License and Identification Card

Any Washington resident can obtain a Standard Driver License or ID, so long as they can prove their identity and residence. Standard license and IDs will now be marked with “Federal Limits Apply” to indicate they are not REAL ID compliant. Because all non-citizens must obtain the Standard Driver License or ID, these cards will not indicate immigration status. OneAmerica encourages U.S. citizen allies to opt for the Standard Driver License and IDs in solidarity with those who don’t qualify for REAL ID compliant forms of identification. When more Washington residents use the Standard Driver Licenses and IDs, it becomes harder for law enforcement to profile those unable to obtain the Enhanced Driver License and ID. It is important now more than ever that we stand in solidarity with our undocumented neighbors to help make Washington safe for all communities.

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