Law Review: Get your Real ID by Oct. 1 |

Law Review: Get your Real ID by Oct. 1

Jim Porter
Law Review
Jim Porter

Unless you’ve been in a cave, you know that by Oct. 1, 2020 you must turn in your old driver’s license and get a new one called a Real ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to be federally compliant with the Real ID Act.

The document is sophisticated, hard to duplicate and intended to prevent theft, corruption and all sorts of things. Unfortunately, it does not make old guys look younger.

Bottom line, after Oct. 1, you can’t travel on a commercial plane unless you have a federally compliant card: passport, military ID or Real ID.


Unless you’re Jim Porter, it’s as Easy as 1-2-3.

My wife, Marianne, who’s on top of things, set me up for an appointment at Truckee’s DMV to get my Real ID. By the way, I highly recommend getting an appointment when you get a driver’s license or register a car, otherwise you’ll likely sit in line depending on the time of day and day of the month. Truckee must be better than Bay Area DMVs because lots of folks come here to do their DMV business. Truckee’s employees are friendly and helpful.

So, here’s where I went wrong. I’d heard I needed a current passport and my old driver’s license, so I showed up ready to roll. I was sent home. I needed more documents.

The program is touted as Easy as 1-2-3. I got 1 right but missed 2 and 3, thus this column so you need only one trip to DMV.

EASY AS 1-2-3

First of all, go online to to complete a checklist of documents you need in order to get a Real ID. Or search for the document Easy as 1-2-3 to find the PDF from the CA DMV.

If you’re unable go online, don’t have a computer or are a certified technophobe like me, here are the three categories of documents you need.


Take an original, unexpired U.S. passport. If you don’t have that, take a certified copy of your birth certificate — photocopies don’t count. An original certificate of naturalization or citizenship will work, as will a few other (original) documents listed on the Easy as 1-2-3 page.

If the name on your identity document is different than your current name, you must bring documents like a certified marriage certificate or court-certified name change document to prove your identity.


Good luck with this one. Bring your original Social Security card. (The name on your social security card must match your name or the name on your marriage certificate.) I had a little problem with this requirement because my Social Security card was made on parchment when Abe Lincoln was president. Lost years ago. Fortunately, you can bring a W-2 or a 1099 or even a pay stub if it includes your full Social Security number.


This is number 3 of 1-2-3. Copies are fine but bring at least two different documents with your name and address, including any of these: home utility bills, medical documents, employment documents, insurance documents, bank documents, mortgage bill, rental or lease signed by owner/tenant, or your tax returns, a deed to real property or a school document. Or a few other possibilities. But two different documents.

If you get mail at a post office box, one of the two residency documents must display both a post office box number and physical address on the same document.

There you go. Unless you’re Jim Porter, it’s as Easy as 1-2-3.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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