By Oct.1, 2020, California will be required to start issuing federally compliant licenses and identification cards under the REAL ID Act. Under the REAL ID Act of 2018 all states must meet the Department of Homeland Security standards for their licenses and ID cards to be accepted for boarding domestic flights or visiting military bases or other federal facilities.
The act was passed in 2005 after the 9/11 attacks to establish a "minimum security standard for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards" and prevents federal agencies from accepting those forms of identification from states that don't meet the DHS's standards.
The California DMV will start offering the REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards at DMV offices starting Jan 22, 2018.
Here's what you need to bring to get yours:
Proof of Identity
A certified copy of a US birth certificate, a valid US passport, an employment authorization document, a permanent resident card or a foreign passport with an approved I-94 form.
Proof of Social Security Number
This would include your social security card, a W-2 form or a paystub with your full social security number.
California Residency Document
This could include a rental agreement, a mortgage or utility bill or medical, employment or school document.
Name Change Document
You would need to show a name change document if your proof of identity document id different from the name on your application. Valid name changed documents would be a marriage certificate, divorce decree or other document.
HOWEVER, despite releasing this new REAL ID compliant driver's license it is completely optional. After 10/1/2020 people will still be able to use a passport, passport card, military id or other TSA approved documents to travel.
So why bother getting a Real ID?
"It costs a lot more for a passport, and some people don't want to carry their passport around, since you need to have either a driver license or ID card on you," said DMV Assistant Director of Public Affairs Jessica Gonzalez.