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Getting my California RealID | Traveling

December 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Starting October 21, 2020 in the state of California, you will need to have a REAL ID in order to board a plane when traveling in the U.S.A.  This will replace your current drivers license which will still be okay if you are stopped by the police for a traffic violation, but it won't be sufficient if you want to board a plane to another U.S. city. Without this, you will need proof of citizenship, such as a valid passport.

Get your REAL ID license by October 21, 2020Get your REAL ID license by October 21, 2020Get your REAL ID license by October 21, 2020

What I learned when applying EARLY for my Real ID is this:

  1. Be prepared.  Be sure to review all of the required documents you need to bring with you https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/realid/checklist
  2. Look over this list twice, it is imperative because if you are missing just one item you will be turned away and have to wait in line, sometimes HOURS, to finalize your application.
  3. Make an appointment, this can save you potentially hours waiting in line.   Go online and click "Appointment" https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/dmv/appointments, find the office you want and pick a date and time.  In many cases I have heard folks say they picked an office that WASN'T close to them because it had the best date available.  Believe me, I walked in to an office about 45 minutes from me even though the closest office is only 10 minutes from me.  However the one close to me did not have an available opening until months away.  It was worth going to another office in Capitola where I walked right in and sped through the process.
  4. Be sure to have cash or credit/debit card.  Personal checks are not accepted unless it is and "E-Check" but I'm not exactly sure how that works.  So bring a credit/debit card or cash.
  5. Be prepared to take a written test.  While not everyone needs to take a written test, but prepared because I WASN'T.  But I think it is necessary every ten years.  I had to "Wing-It" and fortunately passed.  Questions on the test can be tricky and if you haven't taken or practiced the exam ahead of time you will be surprised.  Rules have changed :)
  6. Bring your eyeglasses or contact lenses because you will have to take an eye exam.  If you have monovision, as I do, you need to be sure the DMV is aware of that condition.  You can have your eye doctor fill out this form or you can review what steps to take here.  

What happens next:

  1. If all goes well, then you should expect your new ID to arrive about 2 weeks after your DMV appointment.  It will come in the US Mail.
  2. However, my ID didn't come for months, and after weeks of searching I finally found a phone number and email that actually worked to determine the status of my application.  The email to contact is: [email protected] and the phone number to call is 916-657-7445 Opt 2, 2.  Be AWARE, this number is typically busy and they rarely answer.  I was successful only by calling as soon as they opened, which was either 8 or 8:30 am.  Persistence matters.
  3. Once you receive your REAL ID, be sure to make a photocopy and put it in a safe or safe place just in case.  Never leave it in your glove compartment.

Hope this helps, finding the email and phone number really helped in my case.

Good luck and get your REAL ID early, before everyone starts applying to make the deadline.

 


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