Washington Department of Licensing takes steps to comply with Real ID Act

June 1, 2018

New marking to be added to all standard-issue driver licenses and ID cards

Examples and features of standard driver license and enhanced driver license.

Choose the identification that works best for you. (Click for larger view)

Olympia – Starting July 1, 2018, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will begin marking all standard driver licenses and ID cards with the language, “federal limits apply.”

The change aims to bring Washington into compliance with the federal Real ID Act, which requires all states to mark identification documents that do not comply with the federal law. Under Legislation signed (app.leg.wa.gov) by Gov. Jay Inslee, DOL expects to be in full compliance with the REAL ID Act by fall 2018.

Over the next two years, all Washington residents will have to make a choice about their identity documents. 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.

DOL’s enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID (EIDs) cards are Real ID compliant, and valid for travel as are passports, permanent resident cards and military IDs.

Standard driver license and ID cards can continue to be used for the following:

  • Driving
  • Applying for or receiving federal benefits
  • Entering a federal facility that does not require ID (post office)

An enhanced driver license or ID card is completely voluntary and optional. Some commonly needed documents to get an EDL/EID are certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or military ID.

full list of document options for obtaining an enhanced driver license or ID card is available on the DOL website.

“If you know you will not be flying or already have a federally approved document such as a U.S. passport, passport card or military ID, you do not need an enhanced driver license or ID card,” said DOL Director Pat Kohler.  “There is plenty of time to educate yourself on all options and choose the identification that works best for you.”

For a full list of federally accepted documents and information about REAL ID and what it means for Washington, visit the DOL website.


Recent KING 5 report about DOL facial recognition program contained a false statement

January 24, 2012

Individuals who fraudulently obtain Washington state driver licenses and ID cards present a serious risk to the safety and economic health of our residents and businesses. To fight this type of illegal activity, DOL has been working with the State Legislature for several years to obtain the authority to use a proven, non-invasive facial recognition system already in use for our Enhanced Driver License program to monitor regular driver license and ID card transactions for potential fraud.

In a story broadcast during the 11 p.m. newscast on January 23, 2012, KING 5 stated that DOL operated facial recognition software for regular driver license and ID card transactions without legal authority. This is a false statement. DOL was fully authorized to operate this system as a pilot program by our state’s 2009-2011 transportation budget. This budget, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on May 13, 2009, contained this provision:

“(7) The department may seek federal funds to implement a driver’s license and identicard biometric matching system pilot program to verify the identity of applicants for, and holders of, drivers’ licenses and identicards. If funds are received, the department shall report any benefits or problems identified during the course of the pilot program to the transportation committees of the legislature upon the completion of the program.”

The pilot program ended when the 2009-2011 transportation budget expired. We are now working with the Legislature to make the use of this technology a permanent part of our processes.

DOL appreciates KING 5’s efforts to keep the public informed about the use of our facial recognition system, but it is important for the public to understand that DOL has not used this system in any way that was not fully authorized by law.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and in our regular driver license and ID card processes during the pilot program from November 2009 through June 2011 has demonstrated a need to have this system in place to make sure DOL is doing everything possible to protect public safety and the personal identity information of our state’s residents.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and our pilot program has identified three primary reasons individuals fraudulently obtain multiple driver licenses or ID cards. These are:

• To continue driving after a driver license suspension or revocation

• To purchase or consume alcohol as a minor

• To engage in criminal activities including identity theft

In 2011, the use of facial recognition by our agency resulted in 571 driver license suspensions and the cancellation of 560 fraudulent records and the associated cards. We also are working our way through 3,800 more cases of fraud identified by the facial recognition system during the pilot program.

Our facial recognition system also has allowed us to identify cases where individuals were maintaining multiple identities to fraudulently collect benefits through state entitlement programs.