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As you may know – perhaps you’ve seen customers present new forms of ID issued by other states recently or because you’ve seen information about PennDOT’s introduction of REAL ID licenses – as of Friday, March 1, 2019, PennDOT began issuing driver's licenses and photo identification cards compliant with federal REAL ID standards.

In short, REAL ID-compliant documents are optional, but beginning Oct. 1, 2021, they – or an acceptable alternative identification as approved by TSA – will be required for boarding domestic commercial flights and entering secure federal buildings and facilities.

As a licensee, you’re going to see more and more REAL ID licenses as Pennsylvania and other states introduce them.

Eventually there will be just two basic types of ID – documents that are compliant with REAL ID standards and documents that are not REAL IDs. 

But, for a period of time, there will be four forms of valid Pennsylvania identification documents:

  • the pre-2017 design
  • the 2017 design
  • the REAL ID-compliant design
  • a non-REAL ID design

The PLCB is developing resources to help you identify valid REAL IDs, and additional information, as it becomes available, will be featured online.


Because REAL IDs use the same security features as standard-issued Pennsylvania IDs, they will look very similar to the redesigned licenses issued in 2017.  A Pennsylvania REAL ID-compliant product is identifiable by a gold circle with a transparent star inside it.

Beginning on March 1, newly issued non-REAL ID driver's licenses and ID cards look different. Per federal REAL ID regulations, non-REAL IDs must be clearly labeled with the words “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES.”  NOTE: These are valid forms of ID, even if they are marked “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES”


Both REAL ID-compliant and non-REAL IDs will include barcodes that contain data visible on the front of the card. Licensees are encouraged to contact the manufacturer or provider of their card readers and card scanners regarding the compatibility of their equipment with new documents.

Some licensees can manually enter the driver’s license number or ID card number into their point-of-sale systems to ensure they are not knowingly serving underaged patrons.

Licensees who are still unsure can ask patrons to complete and sign a Declaration of Age card (PLCB-931).


Because new REAL IDs will expire four years after an existing license’s expiration date, it will be possible for licensees to see valid REAL IDs with expiration dates up to eight years in the future.

For example, if a license is set to expire in October 2021, but it is upgraded to a REAL ID in October 2020, that new REAL ID license won't expire until October 2024.