Upgrade or renew your driver license/ID now — or be prepared for a very long wait

February 20, 2020
Good and bad ID options

When the REAL ID law goes into effect Oct. 1, standard Washington driver licenses and standard IDs will no longer be accepted for air travel.

Been meaning to upgrade to an enhanced driver license or identification card? Hurry!

License or ID card set to expire in the next year? Renew now!

Don’t procrastinate.

Do. Not. Wait.

Because the longer you wait to address your licensing needs, the longer you can expect to wait in line.

How long? By late summer, it could be hours.

New federal ID requirements for air travel go into effect Oct. 1. Under the new law, known as the REAL ID Act, a standard Washington driver license or ID card will no longer be accepted for the purposes of domestic air travel or accessing federal facilities such as military bases.

Although residents can choose from many acceptable ID options, we expect a sharp increase in applications for enhanced driver licenses and enhanced ID cards. These REAL ID-compliant forms of identification can be obtained only by bringing the necessary documents to a licensing office.

That means we could be processing hundreds of thousands of last-minute transactions.

If you already have what you need to fly and just want to renew, you might be able to skip a trip and go online. Remember, you can renew up to a year before your license or ID expires; your renewal term will still begin when your current term ends.

If an office visit is unavoidable, you can see up-to-the-minute wait times before you go. Just click on your chosen location and check the right side of the page.

Wait times can vary greatly depending on the office, the day, and even the time of day. Some offices, especially along the I-5 corridor, can experience wait times 3-4 times longer than average. A little planning can save you a lot of time.

Best times to visit tend to be:

  • Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
  • Weekday mornings

Busiest times tend to be:

  • Lunch time
  • The first day the office is open after a holiday
  • Weekdays after 3 p.m., when children are out of school

See more tips for visiting a licensing service office.


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 2020.

It’s important to know that beginning Oct. 1, 2020, individuals will need to present federally acceptable identification at a Transportation Security Administration (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, 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 may need, and learn more about REAL ID.

Learn more about REAL ID and what it means for Washington.


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.