My current driver’s license will expire in July of this year. I’m eligible to renew online, but if I do, I will receive a federally restricted license that will not be considered a valid form of identification to board a domestic flight in the future.

As of October 2020, a new type of license, called REAL ID, will be required to board all U.S. flights and to enter certain federal facilities. A REAL ID card is a federally approved card that will be accepted by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the airport.

Since California driver’s licenses expire every five years, it makes sense for me to apply for a REAL ID with this upcoming renewal. But this needs to be done in person.

I was unfamiliar with REAL ID and the deadline until a friend pointed it out to me. I would have thought I was so efficient renewing online, only to find out later that I, along with millions of other Californians, will want to obtain a REAL ID in the next two years.

On its website, the California DMV says that an individual does not need a REAL ID to drive, receive federal benefits, enter a post office or visit a hospital, but the traditional license will not be valid to fly domestically. A valid U.S. passport, a military ID or another federally approved identification will still be accepted to board a domestic flight.

As I’m a frequent flyer, it makes sense for me to get a REAL ID.

When you go to a DMV field office to apply for a REAL ID, you must have the following original or certified documents.

Proof of identity, such as an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, employment authorization, permanent resident card or foreign passport with an approved form I-94.

Proof of Social Security number such as an unlaminated SSN card, W-2 or pay stub with full SSN.

California residency document such as a utility bill, rental agreement, mortgage bill or medical document.

If your identity document is in a different name, you will need to provide a name-change document such as a marriage license, divorce decree or court document. The DMV has provided a full list of document options on its website. Customers can also use the REAL ID interactive checklist at realid/checklist to gather the documents needed to apply for a California REAL ID driver’s license or ID card.

When I go, I will bring my passport (that has thankfully not expired), a pay stub (as my original Social Security Card is both laminated and in my maiden name) and a medical bill.

I will heed the recommendation to make an appointment online. There are currently no wait times for those with appointments, according to the Thousand Oaks DMV site. The average wait time for those without an appointment is almost two hours.

The cost for driver’s licenses, including REAL ID driver’s licenses, remain the same: $35.

I’m guessing they will take a new photo, although I cannot find that information anywhere on the California DMV site. That’s too bad for me, as my current license picture is pretty nice, probably because it was taken 20 years ago.

While applications for a REAL ID opened in January of this year, I think the change is not widely known and needs to be better publicized. Please share this article with your friends.

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