Washington REAL ID: What You Need to Know

After May 3, 2023, your Washington driver’s license must be REAL ID-compliant if you want to use it to board domestic flights.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
If you want to fly domestically, you'll have to upgrade your Washington driver’s license to be REAL ID-compliant by May 3rd, 2023. 
Your driver’s license certifies your ability to drive, but it’s also one of the most important means of identifying yourself in a way that complies with official government standards. In 2023, those standards will change and you’ll have to apply for a new, enhanced form of your Washington driver’s license that complies with REAL ID regulations.
But what is REAL ID, why do you need it, and how do you get one? The
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What is REAL ID?

was passed in 2005 to support new national defense measures established after 9/11. It outlines new standards for ID documents, including more stringent verification prior to issuance, more advanced anti-forgery technology, and more information printed on the cards themselves. REAL ID requirements will come into effect in 2023
In essence, a REAL ID is any piece of identification that meets the criteria laid out in the Act. The Washington versions of a REAL ID are the enhanced driver’s license (EDL) and enhanced identification card (EID). Besides letting you board domestic flights, the EDL and EID can be used in place of a passport to re-enter the US from countries like Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda.

Who needs a REAL ID?

REAL ID is required for a number of official purposes decided by the Secretary of Homeland Security. They include:
  • Entering a nuclear power plant
  • Entering certain federal facilities
  • Boarding federally-regulated commercial aircraft (including domestic flights)
Your daily life might not take you into many powerplants or restricted federal facilities, but you might find it inconvenient if you can’t board a flight to take you across the country. As of May 3rd, 2023, the TSA will begin checking for a Washington REAL ID-compliant form of identification before allowing you to board.
Are you an infrequent flyer? The
TSA website
has a list of alternative documents that you can use to prove your identity. Washington residents will also be able to continue to use their standard driver’s licenses and ID cards to drive and identify themselves without any trouble.
Key Takeaway The REAL ID Act changes the standards for acceptable official identification and takes effect in 2023.

How to get a Washington REAL ID

The requirements to obtain a REAL ID from the Department of Licensing (DOL) in Washington are as follows:
  • All required documents from the DOL’s
    document checklist
    , including verification of your name, address, and date of birth. Documents must be original—photocopies, printouts, or screenshots won’t be accepted.
  • An online account and completed
    online pre-application
    , which is optional but will streamline the licensing process.
  • An appointment
    at your local DOL office. Make sure to bring your documents with you!
Receiving a REAL ID-compliant Washington enhanced driver’s license (EDL) or enhanced identification card (EID) as your very first piece of official ID costs $78. If upgrading from a standard driver’s license to an EDL, there’s a $54 renewal fee, plus $4 for every year of validity left on your standard driver’s license. 

How to save money on car insurance in Washington

You’ll need a REAL-ID to fly, but if you’d like to make it a road trip, then a full gas tank and car insurance are all you need. And just because the state says you must buy a minimum amount of coverage doesn’t mean you have to pay a lot!
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You can check whether you need a REAL ID on the Department of Homeland Security’s website. Remember that boarding all federally regulated flights (including domestic trips) will require a REAL ID after May 3rd, 2023.
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