A California state ID card is an ideal option for residents who cannot – or do not wish to – obtain drivers licenses. Like a license, a state identification card serves as verified legal documentation of one’s identity, age and residency status. As such, it can be used wherever officially-issued identification documents are required. For example, card holders can use their non-driver IDs to facilitate interstate and international travel, when applying for state and federal assistance programs or when requesting government-issued documents, such as marriage licenses, or vital records, such as birth and death records.

In some respects, non-drivers IDs offer residents advantages not available with drivers licenses. A prime example is parents’ ability to obtain a child ID card for their children, regardless of the youth’s age. Non-driver IDs are also valid for longer than the average drivers license, and cannot be suspended do to accidents or holder behavior, except in extreme circumstances.

California DMV ID Requirements

Californians can apply for a DMV ID card at any age. They may not, however, hold any other state-issued IDs – such as drivers licenses issued by California or any other state – at the same as a California non-driver ID. Holders of other IDs must surrender them to be issued a new California ID.

DMV state ID requirements vary, depending on what type of card applicants request. REAL ID card requirements are extremely stringent. Motorists who cannot meet the documentation requirements set for REAL ID cards may, under California AB 60, apply for and receive “state-only” ID cards. These cards are valid for standard daily use, but do not qualify holders for federal benefits or permissions restricted to REAL IDs.

What do you need to get an ID in California?

All applicants must provide certain basic identity documents. Applicants requesting REAL ID-compliant cards will need to meet additional criteria. Basic documentation required for all applicants includes:

  • True Full Name. Applicants must submit evidence of their complete and true first, middle and last names. Residents who have changed their names must also provide adoption records, marriage licenses or other legal documentation of that name change. Examples of accepted documents that might accompany a DMV state ID application to this end include:
    • Original or certified birth certificates.
    • Adoption records containing legal post-adoption names.
    • Court-issued name change documents.
    • Marriage or domestic partnership certificates.
    • Divorce certificates or the equivalent.
  • Proof of residency. Among the documents needed for state ID by all applicants is at least one qualifying proof of California residency. Applicants who use a mailing address as their primary contact must also provide the physical address of their primary place of residence on their applications. Proof of residency documents must show applicants’ first and last names and their in-state mailing addresses. Examples of acceptable documents include, but are not limited to:
    • Rental/lease agreements.
    • Bills or tax statements.
    • Employment documents.
    • Insurance documents.
    • Voter registration
  • Social Security Number (if applicable). Applicants who are seeking the REAL ID-compliant government issued ID must also submit their Social Security Numbers. Approved SSN documentation includes:
    • A Social Security card.
    • W-2 forms.
    • SSA-1099 forms.
    • Non- SSA-1099 forms.
    • Paystubs.

Applicants may use a single document to meet more than one of the above requirements, as applicable and appropriate.

How to Get an ID in California

Californians wondering where to get state ID cards should be aware that they cannot get ID online. Instead, all applicants must go in person to the DMV to get ID. Appointments are not required, but are highly recommended. To begin, applicants must:

  1. Complete an application form.
  2. Gather their documents.
  3. Take the application and documentation to the DMV.
  4. Pay the applicable application fee.
  5. Have their fingerprints scanned.
  6. Allow themselves to be photographed.

Motorists who can no longer drive due to medical conditions do not need to apply for ID in the state of California. They may exchange their licenses for non-driver ID cards free-of-charge, at any time. Applicants’ IDs will be mailed to them within 60 days, upon successful application.

Applicants 62 years of age or older may apply for senior citizen IDs, which are valid for eight years, compared to the six-year expiration of regular IDs.

REAL ID Cards in California

A California REAL ID card is an identification card that complies with federal standards. Residents are held to a higher standard of documentation when applying for REAL IDs than for other forms of ID. However, unlike other forms of ID, REAL IDs can be used to prove identity when boarding domestic flights or when entering secure federal buildings after stricter access regulations go into effect on October 1, 2020.

To apply for READ ID-compliant cards, residents must provide certified documentation of their identities and hold valid Social Security Numbers. They must also be able to legally prove California residency, and that they are United States citizens or are otherwise in the U.S. legally.

How to Renew or Replace a State ID in California

ID cardholders will need to renew their California DMV identification card credentials every six years for standard cards, and every eight years for senior cards. Due to the extended period of time between renewals and the vital importance of ID for state and national safety purposes, to renew a state ID card residents must:

  • Go, in person, to a DMV service center.
  • Complete an application form.
  • Provide an updated fingerprint and photo.
  • Pay the application fee. (This does not apply to senior cards.)

Senior cardholders may qualify to renew by mail, and should reference the California Identification Card Renewal by Mail Eligibility Form (DL 410 ID) to verify their eligibility.

To replace a lost ID card, residents must follow certain steps. These include:

  • Going in person to a DMV service center.
  • Completing an application form.
  • Providing an updated fingerprint.
  • Paying the application fee.

DMV ID Costs in California

The total cost for a new ID card is decided by several factors. For instance, seniors 62 years of age or older pay no charges to request, renew or replace their ID cards. Regular ID cards cost $30 to request, renew, replace or update with a new name or other information.

Californians who meet the income requirements for a public assistance program may qualify for reduced DMV ID cost services. Applicants eligible for reduced cost services pay $8 for each ID card transaction.

Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.