District of Columbia REAL ID: What You Need to Know

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REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses will be required as documentation to board domestic US flights starting on May 3, 2023, for anyone over 18 in the District of Columbia.
You may not know that your standard-issue US driver’s license offers more functions than just allowing you to operate an automobile legally. If you’re a frequent flier, you may know that you can also use your driver’s license as a valid form of identification when boarding domestic US flights. Starting in May 2023, however, you’ll require a District of Columbia REAL ID-compliant driver’s license if you still want to use it as documentation for boarding your next flight.
Never heard of REAL ID? Not sure how to go about getting one for yourself?
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is here to help! With this how-to guide, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to get yourself a REAL-ID-compliant District of Columbia driver’s license before May 2023. Then stick around to learn how to save more on your
District of Columbia car insurance
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What is REAL ID?

The 9/11 Commission suggested REAL IDs in 2005, a few years after the 9/11 tragedy. The legislation, known as the
, was ratified by the US Congress in 2005 to establish enhanced identification standards for US documents. While it has taken a while, the requirement for REAL-ID-compliant driver’s licenses will go into effect on May 3, 2023 nationwide. 

Who needs a REAL ID?

Starting on May 3, 2023, a REAL ID will be required in order to: 
  • Gain access to a nuclear power plant
  • Enter into some federal facilities
  • Board domestic US flights and other federally regulated commercial aircrafts
If you don’t plan on visiting a nuclear power plant or federal facilities anytime soon, then these first two stipulations might not motivate you to upgrade to a REAL-ID-compliant license. However, if you wish to continue using your District of Columbia driver’s license as an identification document when boarding domestic US flights, particularly if you do not own a US Passport, you’ll need to upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant license before May 2023
If you have access to a valid US Passport, you might not need to upgrade to a REAL ID in the District of Columbia. A full list of valid identification documents for boarding flights after the May 2023 cut-off for REAL ID is available at the
TSA website
Key Takeaway The REAL ID Act sets new standards for identification documents—and it’s scheduled to take effect in 2023. 

How to get a District of Columbia REAL ID

Getting a REAL ID in District of Columbia only takes a few short steps:
  • Download and complete a REAL ID application: You can access an
    for a REAL-ID compliant driver’s license on the District of Columbia DMV’s website. You’ll need to complete this document in its entirety before moving forward. 
  • Use the DC DMV’s Document Verification Guide: The DC DMV’s
    Document Verification Guide
    will help you make sure that you have all the necessary documentation prior to submitting your REAL ID application, including, proof of identity, proof of lawful residence, proof of Social Security, two counts of proof of DC residency, and a valid driver’s license. 
  • Visit your local DC DMV: Bring your completed paperwork and all other necessary documents to your local DC DMV office to complete the process of applying for a REAL-ID-compliant driver’s license. 
You won’t pay any more for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license in the District of Columbia than you would for a regular driver’s license. You can expect to pay approximately $47 to upgrade or renew your license and add REAL ID credentials.

How to save money on car insurance in District of Columbia

While a REAL ID-compliant District of Columbia driver’s license will help you board domestic flights to the far reaches of the US in 2023, having reliable car insurance can help you explore the rest of the country safely starting right now!
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 “Since I just got my license, my insurance costs a lot. I wanted to save as much as possible, and
helped me switch from a $243 plan to $204 with Nationwide!” —Brady L. 
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Acquiring a REAL ID may not be essential for all US travelers, but you can visit the
Department of Homeland Security’s website
to check whether you need a REAL ID. If you want to use your driver’s license to board domestic flights after May 3, 2023, you’ll need to have a REAL ID-compliant license.
By Ethan Moser
Updated on Jan 27, 2023
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett, Senior Editor.
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