Washington State has met all requirements to comply with REAL ID Act

October 8, 2018
ID2020 logo

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID law goes into effect in Washington.

The Department of Homeland Security has determined that Washington State is fully compliant with federal REAL ID requirements, which means standard driver licenses and ID cards will continue to be accepted for boarding a domestic flight through September of 2020.

It’s important to know that beginning October 1, 2020, individuals will need to present federally acceptable identification at a TSA checkpoint in order to board a domestic flight.

“Washington residents have two years to look at your identity document options and determine which one best fits your lifestyle,” said Teresa Berntsen, DOL Director.  “We created the ID2020 campaign to help residents educate themselves on the various options, and encourage them not to wait until 2020 to make a decision.”

There are a variety of identity documents that can be used to board an airplane or enter secure federal facilities, including:

  • U.S. or foreign Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • Military ID
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Enhanced driver license
  • One of several other types of federally approved forms of identification (tsa.gov).

Washington’s enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID (EIDs) cards are REAL ID compliant, and valid for air travel within the United States and can be used to cross the borders of Canada and Mexico by land or sea. Some commonly needed documents to get an EDL/EID are certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or military ID.  A full list of document options to obtain an enhanced driver license or ID card is available on the DOL website.

The enhanced driver license or ID card is optional. A valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card, military ID, or other federally approved identification can be used to board a domestic flight or enter certain federal facilities.  If a resident has another federally approved identification, does not fly, or does not plan to visit a military base or certain federal facilities such as prisons, they do not need an enhanced card and will have the option to apply for a standard driver license or ID card.

Visit ID2020WA.com, to view informational videos, take a quiz to help determine which ID you need, and learn more about REAL ID.

For more information about REAL ID and what it means for Washington, visit the DOL website.


Department of Licensing to begin new marking on all standard-issue driver licenses and ID cards starting July 1 to help bring state into compliance with REAL ID Act

June 28, 2018
ID2020 logo

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID law goes into effect in Washington.

Olympia – Next week, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will begin marking all standard driver licenses and ID cards with the language, “federal limits apply,” to help bring Washington into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act.  DOL expects Washington to be in full compliance by fall 2018.

By October 1, 2020, standard driver licenses and ID cards will no longer be an acceptable form of identification for boarding domestic flights and entering some secure federal facilities, like military bases and nuclear power plants. There are a variety of identity documents that can be used to board an airplane or enter secure federal facilities, including:

  • U.S. or foreign Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • Military ID
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Enhanced driver license
  • One of several other types of federally approved forms of identification (tsa.gov).

“There is plenty of time to educate yourself on all options and choose the identification that works best for you,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “Our ID2020 campaign was created to help educate Washington residents about the REAL ID Act requirements and their options for REAL ID compliant documents if they plan to travel within the United States.”

The main goal of the ID2020 campaign is to help Washington residents decide which identity document best fits their lifestyle.  Even though REAL ID goes into effect on October 1, 2020, it only affects people who want to travel by plane or access certain federal facilities. A standard driver license or ID card will work for other U.S. travel like driving in Washington, across state lines, or riding a train.

Washington’s enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID (EIDs) cards are REAL ID compliant, and valid for air travel within the United States and can be used to cross the borders of Canada and Mexico by land or sea. Some commonly needed documents to get an EDL/EID are certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or military ID.  A full list of document options to obtain an enhanced driver license or ID card is available on the DOL website.

Visit ID2020WA.com, to view informational videos, take a quiz to help determine which ID you need, and learn more about REAL ID.

For more information about REAL ID and what it means for Washington, visit the DOL website


New law gives Washington more time for federal ID requirement changes

May 18, 2017

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law this week a measure that brings Washington state into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, giving residents likely until 2020 before the new federal ID requirements will affect travelers with a Washington driver license or ID card and those seeking entry into some federal facilities and military bases.

That’s because the new law is expected to gain our state a REAL ID compliance extension that will allow a standard Washington driver license or ID card to be used for all federal purposes, including boarding commercial flights until then. Washington joins the ranks of about 20 other states with compliance extensions while they work to implement the federally-mandated changes.

Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID cards will become Washington state’s federally-compliant ID document for domestic air travel and entry into secure areas of federal facilities, but it’s important to remember there are other types of documents that are already valid for federal purposes now and into the future. You may already have one: U.S. or foreign passports, U.S. Passport Cards, military ID, permanent resident cards, Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card), and several other documents. A complete list is available here.

The new law also lowers the price of state-issued Enhanced Driver Licenses from $108 to $78 starting in late July.

Washington state is currently under a temporary compliance extension and federal officials were provided a formal request for a compliance extension this week after Gov. Inslee signed the legislation into law.


More DOL offices to offer enhanced and commercial driver license services

July 1, 2016

The Department of Licensing is expanding the number of offices where customers can obtain enhanced driver licenses, enhanced ID cards, commercial driver licenses and commercial instruction permits from 27 locations to 40 locations.

“Governor Inslee approved our plan to expand these services and it was funded by the Legislature,” DOL Director Pat Kohler said. “This will make getting enhanced or commercial licenses much more convenient for our customers and we expect it to help reduce wait times in many of our larger offices currently handling large numbers of commercial and enhanced driver license transactions.”

The Department of Licensing can’t offer these types of licenses in 16 of it’s smaller locations because they lack the staffing or equipment required to meet federal requirements for issuing documents that require applicants to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or proof of legal presence in the United States.

Enhanced driver licenses and ID cards, commercial driver licenses and commercial learner permits will now be offered at these driver licensing office locations:

  • Bellingham
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Oak Harbor*
  • Port Angeles
  • Bremerton
  • Poulsbo*
  • Downtown Seattle
  • Everett*
  • Lynnwood
  • Smokey Point
  • Shoreline*
  • Bellevue-Redmond
  • Kent*
  • North Bend*
  • Renton
  • West Seattle
  • Federal Way*
  • Lacey
  • Parkland
  • Puyallup
  • Shelton*
  • Tacoma
  • Hoquiam
  • Centralia*
  • North Vancouver
  • East Vancouver*
  • Kelso
  • Kennewick
  • Sunnyside*
  • Union Gap
  • Walla Walla
  • Ephrata*
  • Moses Lake
  • Omak
  • Wenatchee
  • Ellensburg
  • Colville
  • Spokane Valley*
  • Spokane
  • Pullman

* Newly added

Please note:  Once issued, enhanced driver licenses and enhanced ID cards can be renewed at any driver license office, online or by mail. Customers who need to apply for a name change on an enhanced driver license or ID card are required to visit one of the offices above. Also, commercial driver license customers must always renew in person at one of the offices listed above.


JBLM will require Real ID compliant driver licenses or IDs beginning April 1

March 1, 2016

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) recently announced new ID requirements for unescorted visitor access at that base and the Yakima Training Center (YTC). These facilities will begin complying with the Federal Real ID Act on April 1, 2016, which means a standard Washington driver license or ID card will not be accepted for entry.

Washington residents who plan on visiting a military base in our state must have an Enhanced Driver License, Enhanced ID Card, or another acceptable form of identification to get a visitor’s pass for unescorted access to these bases. According to Fort Lewis officials, the following documents can be used in place of a standard Washington driver license or ID card:

  • Washington State Enhanced Driver License or Enhanced ID Card
  • U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card.
  • Permanent resident card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form I-551).
  • Foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine readable immigrant visa.
  • Foreign passport with a current arrival-departure record or foreign passport with INS Form I-94/I-94A bearing the same names as the passport and containing an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status, if that status authorizes the alien to work for an employer.
  • Employment authorization document that contains a photograph (INS Form I-776).
  • JBLM-issued Rapid Gate Identification
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
  • Transportation Worker ID Card (TWIC) issued by DHS
  • Native American tribal document.
  • U.S. Government issued, authenticated Federal PIV credentials.
  • For anyone under 18, a school identification card with a photograph.

This change affects companies with employees who need unescorted access to JBLM or YTC. It also impacts people who need visitor passes for unescorted base access to visit friends, family, the museums, hospital or other locations.

Washington is one of five states whose standard driver license is not in compliance with the federal law. Washington’s Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards are Real ID Act compliant and require proof of U.S. citizenship, identity and Washington state residence. Learn more about obtaining an Enhanced License or ID at the Department of Licensing website.

Learn more about the new requirement by contacting the Lewis Visitor Center at (253) 967-4794, McChord Field Visitor Center at (253) 982-2588, or YTC Police Desk at (509) 577-3236.

Visit the Department of Homeland Security Website for information about the Real ID Act.


The facts about REAL ID compliance and Washington state

October 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently informed Washington state of their decision to deny our request for a compliance extension for REAL ID requirements. This means starting as early as January 2016, standard Washington state driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted as a standalone identity document at some secure federal facilities. This does not affect commercial airline travel at this point. The Department of Licensing has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards since 2008. These will continue to be federally acceptable documents and can be obtained by Washington residents who are U.S. citizens.

Even under REAL ID, most services provided by the federal government do not require identification to be presented, and that will not change. Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, national parks, and, at this time, boarding flights at commercial airports.

At some point in the future, Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will need to use an approved second form of ID with their standard Washington driver license/ID card for boarding domestic commercial airline flights. DHS has indicated that they will announce “the timing and nature” of enforcement for commercial airlines in December, 2015 and that the date will be at least four months from that time. They have provided no further information to states.

It is important to remember that this change will not have significant impacts on typical Washington residents at this time. Most residents don’t regularly visit the secured areas of federal facilities. Washingtonians are encouraged to investigate all of their options for obtaining a federally compliant document like a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, state Enhanced Driver License/ID card, or other ID documents (see below) that will be acceptable by federal agencies to enter secure federal facilities. This includes nuclear power plants, military facilities and other facilities that require ID to enter.

  • Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes our state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule. This means our regular driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted at certain secure federal facilities and nuclear power plants – the Department of Homeland Security has not announced a specific date for enforcement to begin at commercial airports.
  • State law currently prohibits the expenditure of state funds to comply with the REAL ID Act. See RCW 46.20.191 and 43.41.390.
  • The Department of Homeland Security compliance schedule indicates REAL ID requirements may be enforced at commercial airports any time after December 31, 2015. However, the exact date remains unknown and at whatever point they announce the date, there will be at least 4-months between the announcement and the date the commercial airport requirements will take effect. DHS has been unclear about specific dates.
  • Since 2008, Washington state has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards that federal officials have certified for use as proof of identity for federal purposes. These documents can be used for any purpose a REAL ID compliant license can be used for and have the additional benefit of being an acceptable form of identification at U.S. land and sea border crossing stations in the Western Hemisphere. They are available to U.S. citizens.
  • Over the past several years, DOL has met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 42) just by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—things we would have done regardless of the REAL ID Act. In addition, we will meet several more of the REAL ID requirements once we move to a new driver license and ID card central issuance system in 2017. Many of the REAL ID requirements will be costly for the state to comply with.
  • Additional forms of identification acceptable for federal purposes include:
    • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    • Permanent resident card
    • Border crossing card
    • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    • HSPD-12 PIV card
    • Foreign government-issued passport
    • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    • Transportation worker identification credential

DOL expands use of facial recognition system to fight fraud

June 7, 2012
DOL image

DOL image

The Department of Licensing (DOL) is starting to use a facial recognition matching system as part of our ongoing efforts to prevent individuals from obtaining multiple driver licenses or ID cards or attempting to obtain a license or ID in the name of another Washington resident. DOL is committed to doing everything we can to protect the identities of Washington residents.

DOL has used facial recognition as part of the Enhanced Driver License program since 2008 and in our regular driver license and ID card processes during the pilot program from November 2009 through June 2011.

How does facial recognition system work?
Using your regular driver license or ID card photo, the system uses sophisticated mathematics to create a digital template of facial features that aren’t easy to alter, such as eye sockets, cheekbones and sides of the mouth.

Before a new license is issued, the system compares the template it creates to with all of the templates already in our database to determine if someone is attempting to apply for a license using a name other than their own. When potential conflicts are detected, the system flags them for review by specially trained DOL staff.

DOL’s facial recognition system is designed to be an accurate, non-obtrusive fraud detection tool. When staff investigators confirm an individual may have more than one identity in our system, DOL offers the individual an opportunity to explain. A hearing is offered before any administrative action to suspend or cancel a license or ID card is taken.

Facial recognition templates are not shared
We do not share the use of the system with law enforcement or the other agencies without a court order and do not release facial recognition system results. However, when our efforts find probable fraud or identity theft we inform appropriate partner agencies who can investigate for identity-based crime or entitlement fraud.