HARRISBURG – More than 612,000 motorists have gotten Real ID driver’s licenses since the state began making them available in March, said Alexis Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.
Thus far, many people renewing their driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania have opted not to get the Real ID, Campbell said.
“Just over 2 million customers have renewed their license and chose not to get a Real ID, which makes the total number of Pennsylvanians who have made a decision about Real ID just over 2.6 million,” Campbell said.
The Real ID costs an extra $30 on top of the normal $30.50 cost of renewing a driver’s license, according to the Department of Transportation.
Residents have until Oct. 1, 2020 to get Real ID driver’s licenses or they will have to show some other form of federally-recognized identification, such as a passport or military ID, to board a plane or enter federal buildings that require identification for entry, including military bases.
Any traveler unable to verify his or her identity will not be permitted to enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at airports and will not be allowed to fly, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
State and industry officials are urging travelers to not procrastinate if they need the Real ID.
“We anticipate that about 1.3 million Pennsylvanians will ultimately get a Real ID in advance of the Oct. 1, 2020, and we continue to encourage customers who want to obtain a Real ID to start the process sooner rather than later,” Campbell said.
Pennsylvania isn’t alone in seeing most people pass up the chance to get the Real ID driver’s license. In October, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that only 27 percent of drivers had licenses that satisfy the Real ID requirements.
Pennsylvania’s airports launched a campaign earlier this month to remind travelers about the upcoming deadline.
“In 2018 over 30 million flights occurred from Pennsylvania's commercial airports. The concern is too many people waiting to the last minute could result in long waits,” said Debbie Bowman, executive director of the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania. “Additionally, the identification required to get a Real ID, is not always easily accessible and may take time to locate,” she said.
The state’s five busiest airports – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre Scranton and Lehigh Valley – have rolled out a public awareness campaign to help travelers recognize if they need the new identification, according to the aviation council.
The move to require the new identification is due to federal legislation passed in 2005 in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
To get a Real ID, residents must provide the Department of Transportation additional documentation to prove their identities, including their Social Security card and birth certificate, and document name changes with marriage licenses and divorce decrees.
Pennsylvania lawmakers initially balked at cooperating with the Real ID initiative, passing a law in 2012 that barred the state from participating, out of concerns about privacy.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law repealing the 2012 anti-Real ID law in 2017.