DMV Offers Free REAL ID Upgrade

If you renewed during the pandemic, you may be eligible
Photo Credit: Darwin Vegher / Unsplash


Sacramento – The Department of Motor Vehicles invites all eligible Californians who received driver’s licenses or identification cards during the pandemic but did not get a REAL ID to upgrade now for no additional cost. This offer is set to expire at the end of the year.

An office visit is required to get a REAL ID. During the pandemic, the DMV temporarily expanded eligibility to renew online or by mail to include Californians age 70 and older, and customers who had reached their limit on out- of-office renewals – customers normally required to renew in person. The DMV expects to issue about 5.7 million driver’s licenses and IDs that are not REAL IDs between March 2020 and July 2021 to customers eligible for one. A fee is paid at the time of driver’s license application for a new license or renewal. That fee will be waived for the customers who received a non-REAL ID during that time if they upgrade now at

“We don’t want Californians to pay the price for not getting a REAL ID during the pandemic,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “While the federal government has extended the enforcement date for a REAL ID, there is no need to procrastinate. If you act now, you can take advantage of this offer and upgrade to a REAL ID for free.”

Beginning May 3, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require a valid passport or other federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, to board flights within the United States and access secure federal facilities and military bases.

To apply for a REAL ID, an applicant must provide a valid Social Security number, proof of identity and two proofs of California residency. A list of qualifying documents and other helpful information can be found at

The DMV is taking many steps to improve its services and make getting or upgrading to a REAL ID easier. By filling out the REAL ID application at and uploading their documents, Californians can make an appointment, bring their confirmation code and documents with them to a DMV office at their convenience, even the same day, for express service – no appointment necessary. Once at a service window, it now takes less than 10 minutes to complete the REAL ID transaction.

The DMV encourages Californians to act now to complete the online application for a REAL ID before they come to the office and to be prepared with the appropriate documents to speed the process for everyone.

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