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4 things to know about the new federally compliant California ID

File: People wait in line outside of the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2009.
File: People wait in line outside of the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2009.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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States across the country are revamping their IDs and driver's licenses up to federal standards.

It's part of the US Real ID Act, and the process has been 16 years in the making. But California is a little behind—and while we're sprinting to catch up with the rest of the country, Gov. Brown's revised budget tells us the overhaul will have a price tag of $220 million.

DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez spoke with A Martinez about what this change could mean for residents of the Golden State.

1. You don't need to get it right away. 

"The DMV has developed a federally compliant driver's license and identification card... So beginning in January 2018, customers can come in to apply for a federally compliant driver's license or ID card.

But we want to make sure people know that you don't necessarily have to get this card right away, and you might not need one at all... And we also want people to know that, even though we're starting this in January 2018, you still have until October 2020 to use your current California driver's license or ID card."

TL;DR: You can start applying for these new cards in 2018, but there's no rush. You won't need them until October 2020.

2. There's a lot more required when you apply for the new cards.

"You have to physically come into a field office if you want to apply. You will also have to show your birth date. You can do that by using a birth certificate or a passport. You're also going to have to prove California residency. You're going to need two documents.

This could be a mortgage bill, a rental agreement or a cell phone bill, even. It just has to show your address—they have to match. And then you also have to bring in your paper social security card. So, that's definitely different than how we do it today."

TL;DR: You'll have to physically go to the DMV and bring your birth certificate or passport, two documents that prove your address, and your actual Social Security card (not a copy).

3. They're not for everyone.

"You don't necessarily need a federally compliant card. You can still renew online or by mail, and you don't have to come [into the office] and do this. This is really for those people that maybe don't have a passport and really want to keep using their license to fly on an airplane."

TL;DR: You don't have to bother getting a federally compliant ID, but beginning October 2020, you will be required to either have this new ID or a passport to travel nationally.

4. This is all being done for one reason: security.

"The federal government is requiring all states to comply with certain new requirements in order to board an airplane or enter certain federal facilities...

It started after 9/11, and it was the federal government's way to make sure that all states have similar ways of verifying identification and security measures. So California has been moving toward compliance for some time, and this is really the final step in the process."

TL;DR: Waiting in lines is a pain, but it's all in an effort to make travel more secure.

To listen to the segment, click the blue play button above.