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California's REAL ID deadline is back. The DMV is bracing for a surge of late applicants
California's REAL ID deadline is back. The DMV is bracing for a surge of late applicants

California's REAL ID deadline is back. The DMV is bracing for a surge of late applicants

  • Updated

The federal government last year gave California drivers a one-year reprieve from a deadline to obtain a REAL ID, conceding to fears that requiring millions of people to visit the DMV in a pandemic would spread the coronavirus.

The new deadline now is just seven months away, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles is bracing for a massive influx of state REAL ID applicants in late summer.

"We expect that demand for REAL ID to peak as it gets closer to the Oct. 1 date," said Steve Gordon, director of the California DMV.

Californians beginning on Oct. 1 must have a REAL ID in order to do things such as board a plane for domestic flights without a passport or enter a federal building.

If current models hold, the department anticipates serving upwards of 1 million Californians a month in August and September, Gordon said.

To satisfy that growing demand, Gordon said the department is taking many steps.

One is to steer as much DMV traffic as possible through the department's newly revamped website, where many services can be obtained without ever having to step into a state office.

The REAL ID process must be completed at a DMV office. But parts of it can be done online, such as certifying the necessary documents required for the ID.

The department also has requested funding from the state to maintain existing staffing levels required to service REAL ID customers, he said.

That includes a request of $186.3 million for fiscal year 2021-22 — beginning July 1 — for "one-time and ongoing funding, to continue implementation of the federally mandated REAL ID Act," according to a DMV budget request document.

The budget request includes ongoing funding for more than 1,300 existing temporary positions, including temporary hires and permanent intermittent employees, to handle the increased workload associated with REAL ID implementation, "and will assist in keeping wait times down to an acceptable level," according to the document.

To apply for a REAL ID card, you must provide documentation that includes your date of birth and full name, such as an unexpired U.S. passport, a copy of a birth certificate, or an unexpired permanent resident card.

You must also provide a document that shows your full name and Social Security number (though it is possible to get a REAL ID even if you are ineligible for a Social Security number). Finally, you must provide two printed documents that show that you live in California, such as a rental or lease agreement, a home utility bill or employment documents.


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