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California Real ID Name Change

How to Change Real ID Name

This is the big stuff you need to know about getting your California License, Real ID Compliant. See the Hints, Tips and Time Savers section for a couple of other things to know about that will make your DMV trip as productive and successful as possible.

Real ID Name Requirements

You must prove residency in California by providing 2 printed documents, issued to you at your address in California, from someone you’re dealing with.. Utility bills, employers, government offices, landlords and lending companies, or other 3rd party organizations are usually acceptable. The addresses for you on the documents must match each other and be sent to or reference an actual residence address.

Real ID Name Change Documentation

If your true full name isn’t matching, on your Birth Certificate, Passport, Social Security Card, or Driver’s License (or State ID), then you should also bring a Name Change document (such as Decree Changing Name, Marriage License, Divorce Judgment, Adoption Order, Naturalization Certificate, etc.) For this purpose, a Name Change Document MUST have both your prior full name and your new full name printed on that document. If you need a name change court order, you can have EZ Name Change help you get that done, or you can pursue it yourself in the courts. The purpose of the name change document is to prove your full current name using authentic, government-issued documents for any variations from the way your name was written down at birth. Certified or Original documents will be required.

Important Real ID UPDATE – Deadline Extended due to COVID-19

On April 27, 2021 the Department of Homeland Security officially extended (for the third time) the deadline for REAL ID Compliance until May 7, 2025. The original deadline was October 1, 2020, which had been extended to October 1, 2021 due to the COVID Pandemic. . If you can get your REAL ID sooner, you will avoid the long lines that will get longer as the new deadline approaches. Check with your local DMV office for the best days and times to go in to get your REAL ID. Review their Checklist to be sure and bring proof of Your Name, Your Identity, and Your Residence. 

What Is Real ID? – What Does Real ID Compliant Mean?

Real ID is shorthand for a new kind of nationwide security clearance for regular people. If you don’t have it, you won’t be able to get on an airplane, buy firearms and ammunition, or go into a secure federal facility anywhere in the United States. When you do have Real ID, you’ll have the kind of security pre-clearance that lets you move around the US quickly and efficiently. And, you’ll feel more secure knowing that less reliable people aren’t where you are.

You can get a Real ID only by having your name and identity confirmed. There are federal confirmation processes, such as the US Passport approval process, that already qualify as Real ID. The states have created a new kind of driver’s license emblem, a Star on your driver’s license, if you’ve been through the Real ID confirmation process.

Having a Real ID will make it easy for you to go through security checks. Not having it will mean you won’t be allowed past the security checkpoints.

The Real ID Act – Enforcement Now Starts May 7, 20253 Nationwide (due to COVID-19)

This is all the result of our reaction to 9/11 and to the danger of terrorism inside the US. The 9/11 Commission proposed standards so we could better know who was inside the United States in certain situations. A focus of the 9/11 Commission recommendations was on air travel and federal facilities. From that, in 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act.

A central purpose of the Real ID Act was to establish “Real ID Compliant” identification for regular people inside the United States. Security personnel could then check to see if the person already had a Real ID, indicating that their name and identity had already been verified. The person carrying Real ID Compliant identification could then pass through designated security areas routinely.

Federal Forms of ID that work are government issued passports, US government issued immigration ID and some federally issued transportation documents. You should look over the full list of TSA Federally issued documents that are deemed Real ID Compliant unless you plan to use the Real ID State License.

California Issues Real ID Name Identification, Real ID Compliant Licenses and ID Cards

State issued forms of ID are Driver’s Licenses and State ID Cards. As Homeland Security’s slogan says, “Check for the Star”. If your California State issued Driver’s License or State ID Card is Real ID Compliant, it must have a “Star cutout in gold grizzly bear” in the top right portion of your license.

The Golden Bear with the 5-point Star, in the upper right-hand corner, means your California Driver’s License is Real ID Compliant. DMV will continue to issue non-compliant driver’s licenses without the Golden Bear and Star, which will allow you to drive or have California issued identification, but it won’t be Real ID compliant without the 5-point star inside the golden bear in the upper right-hand corner.

California Real ID – How Do You Get It?

You get it from the DMV. You can get either a Real ID compliant Driver’s License or a State ID. In fact, it is your actual driver’s license or state ID, except this one will have the Golden Bear with the 5-Point Star cutout on it. That means you provided the additional name and identity documentation, and your driver’s license or ID is now Real ID compliant. You can still get a regular license or ID, if you can’t provide the documentation required, or if you don’t want to get a Real ID, or if you have no need for one. But, without a Real ID, you won’t be allowed into the specified security areas.

You can’t get a Real ID by mail or online. You have to go in person to a DMV office near you. Here’s the bullet points of what you’ll need to gather and bring with you to be successful:

  • Proof of your Identity
  • Verification of your true full name
  • Document showing your full Social Security Number and name
  • Two qualifying, printed documents showing your California physical residence address

Do You Need a Real ID? – Do You Have to Have it by Law?

Yes…and No. NOTE: If you’re going to need it and wait until the last minute, you are too late!

Let’s say you want to fly to see your family for Thanksgiving, 2023. If you don’t have Real ID, you won’t be allowed into the boarding area for the plane. Not the kind of news you want to learn at the airport that day. It’s not a law that you must have a Real ID. You only need it if you want to get on that airplane or anything else that requires Real ID compliance.

You need this for your own convenience and mobility. Real Id is just an ID with an additional layer of security built into it. The 5-Point Star in the Golden Bear shows that you have it. The goal is to make sure everyone inside a secure area has been deemed safe to be in there.

You don’t have to get a new driver’s license to be Real ID compliant, but that’s likely to be the most convenient way to have this base covered. If you have a California Driver’s license with the Golden Bear and 5-point Star in the upper right hand corner, you’ll be speeded through the checkpoints. If you don’t want to get the California Real ID license or ID Card, you can still use one of the Federally approved types of ID, and still be speeded through the checkpoints.

Federally Issued Real ID Compliant Name Identification Documents

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated 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 (TWIC)
  • S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • S. Merchant Mariner Credential

You need Real Id to move around the country, with access into security designated areas, starting on May 3, 2023 (extended from October 1, 2020 due to COVID-19). You also need it so that you, and everybody else where you’re allowed to go, feel safer when you’re in one of those places. If you’re not going to need access to those kinds of places, then you don’t need it.

Hints, Tips and Time Savers to Get Your California DMV Real ID Name Identification


If you are getting your Real Id license in the name exactly as it appears on your birth certificate, you only need your original (or a certified copy) of your birth certificate to prove your Identity. If you weren’t born as a US Citizen, then your Citizenship Certificate will serve that same purpose.

If you want your Real ID license issued in a name you use or want to use, but that name isn’t your name as printed on your birth or citizenship certificate, you’ll need to also bring 1 or more Name Change Documents to prove that you are legally entitled to use the name you’ve taken. . A Name Change Document MUST have both the name you changed from and the name you changed to on that one document. If you can’t do that, you may need to go get a Name Change Court Order, or other proper Name Change Document BEFORE you go to DMV to get your Real ID. Name Change Specialists, like EZ Name Change, can help you unify your Name Identity and get you the name change document you need.

Social Security

You have to bring your Social Security ID with you. You can bring your Social Security Card, or another properly issued Social Security Document that shows BOTH your Social Security Number and your name matching your Identity Name. If your Social Security Account Name doesn’t match the name you want on your Real ID, you should go to Social Security and get that changed before trying to get your Real ID. DMV has access to SSA computer records and should be expected to check your SSA account name before approving your Real ID.


You must have 2 different letters, bills, statements, contracts, or other legitimate documents, sent to you by a bona fide 3rd party. If your address on those documents doesn’t match the one you are using with DMV, you should also bring your filed change of address forms, new lease or purchase documents, or other official documentation to show a recent move or otherwise explain the different addresses. Typically, you can bring a recent telephone bill, pay stub, W-2, 1099, or 1040 tax form, or any other utility bill, lease or rental agreement, mortgage or loan statement, etc. If you cannot bring 2 (or more) printed documents to prove your current residency, take the time to obtain them before trying to get your Real ID. PO Box address documentation will not count. It must be your residence street address.

Fees, Application and Appointment

There is no additional charge for the Real ID compliant driver’s license or State ID. It costs $36 for the license or $31 for just the State ID, including Real ID. Other fees apply for licenses and documents besides a Class C driver’s license or a regular State ID.

You can complete the Application for Real ID online, but you MUST go into a DMV office to have your request processed and completed. Completing this online, in advance of your visit to DMV will expedite your process somewhat, once you’re there.

You can make an appointment or just go to a convenient DMV office as a drop in. There is a processing preference for people who make appointments, but it’s not going to make your DMV visit just a few minutes long. Expect to be there an hour, or two, or three. You can do some research to find the least busy times of the day or the week.

To pay the fees inside the DMV office, you need a check, cash, a money order, or an ATM/debit card. Credit cards are not accepted for payment inside DMV and you must go inside to get the Real ID.

In planning when to get your Real ID, leave time to receive it in the mail after your visit. It may take a couple of weeks after payment of the fees and approval of your application/documents.
The best time to get your Real ID is when you need to renew your license or ID. However, again, don’t cut the deadline too close in case you need additional documents.

Real ID Name Identification for Children

Children aged 13 and up can apply for a State ID (non-driver). Children eligible to get a driver’s license can get a Real ID if the other requirements are met. TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.

Real ID Name Change Identification in California

As the mandatory enforcement date, May 3, 2023 approaches and then passes, there will undoubtedly be updates to the rules, policies, requirements and laws concerning the Real ID Act and related practices that you’ll need to be updated about going forward. Please check back here, and read other resources, as time goes on.

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