California DMV waiving REAL ID fees for residents who got new licenses, IDs during pandemic

The California Department of Motor Vehices is waiving the fees for residents who got their driver's licenses or identification cards during the pandemic, allowing them to upgrade to a REAL ID at no additional charge.

Californians must go into a DMV office in person to get a REAL ID. 

Beginning May 3, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require a valid passport or other federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, to board flights within the United States and access secure federal facilities and military bases.

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"We don’t want Californians to pay the price for not getting a REAL ID during the pandemic," said DMV Director Steve Gordon. "While the federal government has extended the enforcement date for a REAL ID, there is no need to procrastinate. If you act now, you can take advantage of this offer and upgrade to a REAL ID for free."

The DMV estimates around 5.7 million driver’s licenses and IDs that are not REAL IDs will be issued between March 2020 and July 2021.

SUGGESTED: Southern California woman's new ID has photo of her wearing a mask

A fee is paid when a resident applies for a new license or license renewal. That fee will be waived for the customers who received a non-REAL ID during the pandemic if they upgrade now at

To apply for a REAL ID, an applicant must provide a valid Social Security number, proof of identity and two proofs of California residency. A list of qualifying documents and other helpful information can be found at