Afternoon Newsletter

Millions of Californians have faulty Real IDs. Here’s how to avoid a trip back to the DMV

What is REAL ID?

Starting Jan. 22, Californians need to apply for a new, federally-approved driver's license or ID before the old ones become invalid for air travel.
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Starting Jan. 22, Californians need to apply for a new, federally-approved driver's license or ID before the old ones become invalid for air travel.

Over the next several months, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles plans to send letters to 3.6 million customers who received Real ID cards prematurely.

Federal law requires Californians to have that kind of ID by Oct. 1, 2020 to board airplanes or enter federal facilities without a passport. Department of Homeland Security officials determined earlier this year that the California DMV issued millions of cards without asking customers to provide a second proof of residency.

To resolve the issue, the DMV started mailing notices out to customers on Monday. It will continue sending the letters throughout the summer.

“For existing REAL ID card holders who only provided one proof of residency document, the DMV is assisting these customers in becoming compliant, and in most instances no return visit will be required for these customers,” the DMV announced on Tuesday.

According to the department, cardholders who provided one proof of residency will need to check a box confirming their mailing address is accurate. After that, they’ll sign and date the document and send it back to the DMV in a prepaid envelope provided to them. That returned letter would serve as the second residency document meeting federal guidelines.

People could also visit a field office or check in online to correct the problem, though the department is trying to save people from making an unnecessary trip to a DMV office.

A sample letter the DMV provided asks customers to respond by July 21. If the DMV doesn’t get a response, it will continue to alert them before their card expires.

The DMV estimates it will cost about $3.4 million to send out the letters.

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