AAA tests program to allow California users to get Real ID

Jul 14, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated. It was originally published July 14, 2021.


Getting a Real ID just got a little bit easier for travelers living in California, as AAA begins a pilot program this month to allow members to skip the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a release announcing the partnership.

Starting later this month, AAA members can choose from 19 regional auto club locations throughout Southern California to ensure their driver’s license is Real ID-compliant by May 3, 2023, ABC7 reported.

The AAA-DMV pilot is the first of its kind and is specific to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

AAA, a federation of independent motor clubs, may roll out similar programs in the future.

“This is a pilot program between the CA DMV and the Auto Club and specific to Southern California,” Jeffrey Spring, a spokesperson for AAA California, said via email. “If a similar program begins in other states, it will be between the local AAA club and that state’s DMV.”

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In April, the Department of Homeland Security extended the Real ID deadline from Oct. 1, 2021, to address a DMV backlog due to pandemic-related closures and capacity limits. Congress passed the Real ID Act to provide for increased security after 9/11.

“Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel,” the DHS announced in a release.

Read more: The Real ID deadline is being pushed back (again) until 2023

As TPG previously reported, you will need a Real ID to fly unless you plan to travel with your passport domestically. All 50 states and Washington, D.C., are issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will automatically receive one, so we suggest taking a DHS quiz to see if yours is compliant.

AAA hopes the program will “streamline” the Real ID process and ultimately make it easier for applicants.

“The DMV continues to streamline its processes and incorporate technology to become more mobile and better serve its customers through more convenient service options,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a press statement. “We hope our partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California will prompt its members to get their REAL ID now and not wait until the last minute.”

“They suggested that we make it available to help make that a reality, and so that’s why we formed this partnership to extend our DMV services to REAL ID, and we’re very, very pleased and excited to be able to offer that,” Mike Johnson, the senior vice president of member services for AAA of Southern California, told ABC7.

Read more: Everything you need to know about getting a Real ID

AAA’s program does not allow you to bypass the DMV entirely, as members will still be required to make an appointment on the California DMV website. The cost varies by state, ranging from approximately $10 to $85 to get a compliant ID. In California, it’s $38 for both a Real ID or regular license.

Featured photo of a DMV in Bell Gardens, California, by Jessica Pons/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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