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Real ID is finally happening — and you can now get one at LAX Airport

July 19 2022
4 min read
Real ID is finally happening — and you can now get one at LAX Airport
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Real ID has been "coming soon" for more than a decade.

Though the implementation of this stricter identification measure has been delayed multiple times, it's now slated to be enforced as of May 3, 2023.

If you still don't have an ID that complies with these latest standards, there's some good news. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, in partnership with United Airlines and Los Angeles World Airports, will host a pop-up application center in Terminal 8 of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

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This will be the first time the California DMV has partnered with an airline to open a temporary mobile office in the airport. The pilot program will be held on four dates in July and could be extended if there's sufficient enough demand.

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For now, the Real ID enrollment center at LAX will be open on the following dates between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

  • Tuesday, July 19
  • Thursday, July 21
  • Tuesday, July 26
  • Thursday, July 28
(Photo courtesy of United)

The process of applying for a California-issued Real ID at the airport will be quite similar to one obtained from a traditional DMV office. You'll need to start an application online, upload the required documents and print a confirmation page. You'll need to complete your online paperwork and schedule an in-airport appointment at least 48 hours in advance of your visit.

Once at the pop-up location, you'll need to present original copies of your uploaded documents along with a copy of your online application confirmation. Your photograph and fingerprint will then be taken at the mobile office site to complete your application.

United's partnership with the California DMV is quite unique — it doesn't appear that any other states have yet to offer a similar convenience for travelers who need to upgrade their IDs.

For its part, United claims that this could be the first of many possible partnerships with DMVs across the country. "I’m excited for LAX to be the first airport where United is trialing this program with DMV, and we look forward to the possibility of expanding this offering to other United hubs to help more customers get their REAL ID in our terminals," said Jonna McGrath, United's managing director of LAX, in a statement.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The pop-up DMV location is open to ticketed passengers and airport employees based in California.

If you've passed through an airport recently, odds are that you've seen signage about the looming deadline for traveling with Real ID-compliant identification.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the Real ID Act to standardize government-issued photo IDs with a uniform set of security requirements. Once enforced, the Act requires government agencies to accept Real ID-compliant identification cards as official forms of ID.

Real IDs will be required before boarding flights within the U.S. and before entering secure federal facilities, including military bases and federal courthouses.

One of the main goals of the act is to add an extra layer of protection for commercial aviation by making it harder to falsify documents and travel on forged IDs.

When applying for a Real ID, you'll need to present additional documentation to verify your identity, while the physical cards themselves are harder to fake.

Though enforcement of the Real ID Act has been delayed multiple times, all 50 states, along with Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have already started issuing compliant identification cards. To see if your ID or driver's license is already Real ID compliant, look for a gold or black star in the corner of the identification card, as explained in this handy illustration.

(Screenshot from the Department of Homeland Security)

If you aren’t interested in upgrading your state-issued ID to a compliant version, you can still travel with a U.S. passport or any of the following TSA-approved forms of identification:

  • U.S. passport card.
  • DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST).
  • Permanent resident card.
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID.
  • Border-crossing card.
  • State-issued enhanced driver’s license.
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID.
  • HSPD-12 PIV card.
  • Foreign government-issued passport.
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card.
  • Transportation worker identification credential.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employment authorization card (I-766).
  • U.S. merchant mariner credential.
Featured photo by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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