Requirements for a California Identification Card

How to Apply for a California Identification ID Card?

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues an ID card to any person who provides their:

  1. Acceptable identity document.
  2. True full name.
  3. Social security number (SSN), if eligible for one. If you believe you are eligible for a SSN and have not been issued one, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  4. Proof of California residency.
  5. Fingerprint image, to be taken at DMV.
  6. Photograph, to be taken at DMV.
  7. Prior ID card(s) in their possession, if any.

Applicants eligible for a driver license (DL) pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 60 are not eligible for an ID card.

Additional Card Markings

  • REAL ID Compliant ID:
    • Complies with Federal Requirements to allow the applicant to use their ID card as identification to board an airplane, enter military bases, and most federal facilities.
    • All REAL ID Compliant ID cards issued by California DMV will contain a California grizzly bear and a star on the front upper-right corner of the card.

Applicants eligible for a DL pursuant to AB 60 are unable to apply for a REAL ID Compliant ID card. Applicants applying for an ID who do not apply for a REAL ID will receive a Federal Non-Compliant Card with the marking for “Federal Limits Apply.”

  • Veteran Designation:
    • Eligible veterans have the opportunity to add the word “VETERAN” to the front of their ID card to indicate that they have a served in the U.S. military.
    • It may also play a critical role in enabling access to certain privileges, benefits, or compensation associated with being a veteran without having to carry and produce a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214).
      You must provide a completed Veteran Status Verification Form (VSD-001) issued by a County Veterans Service Office at a local DMV office to receive the veteran designation on your ID card.
  • Senior ID Card:
    • Available to applicants 62 years old, or older, free of charge. The senior ID card has a banner with the words “Senior Identification Card” on the front.
  • Organ and Tissue Donor:
    • When you add your name to the Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, you are legally authorizing the recovery of organs and tissues in the event of your death. A pink “DONOR” dot will be printed on your ID card.

What Do I Need to Apply?

Identity Documents

When you apply for an ID card, you must present an acceptable identity document(s) to establish who you are. An acceptable identity document is issued by an authority such as a county, state, federal, or foreign agency. All applicants applying for an original ID card or converting to a REAL ID Compliant ID card, must submit proof of identity as authorized under federal law. The ID card is valid for up to 8 years, or less depending on the type of identity document submitted. These documents help ensure the accuracy and integrity of ID cards issued by DMV and help prevent identity theft. DMV will only accept an original document or a certified copy of the original. DMV will not accept photocopies, “informational copies,” or documents with the statement, “Informational, not a valid document to establish identity,” or any similar statement. Document(s) presented at a DMV office will be returned to you. For a complete list of acceptable identity documents, visit

If you have an existing California DL record, you may be eligible for Federal Non-Compliant ID card without additional identity documents. The Federal Non-Compliant ID card will be marked with “Federal Limits Apply.”

True Full Name

Your true full name is your current, complete legal name (first, middle, and last name) as it appears on your identity or name change document(s). If the name on your identity document is different than the name you provided on your application, you must submit an additional name change document. Name change documents that establish your true full name include:

  • Adoption documents that contain the legal name as a result of the adoption.
  • Name change documents that contain the legal name both before and after the name change.
  • Original or certified copy of your marriage certificate.
  • Dissolution of marriage/domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action.
  • Certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership.

If you are correcting or changing your name on an ID card, you must also correct or change your name on your DL (if applicable).

Social Security Number (SSN)

If you are eligible for or have been issued an SSN, you must include it on your application. When applying for or converting to a REAL ID Compliant ID, you must provide proof of your SSN. For a list of acceptable REAL ID SSN options, visit Your SSN will be electronically verified with the Social Security Administration (SSA) while you are in a DMV office. If you are eligible for an SSN and have not been issued one, contact the SSA. You must provide DMV with your SSN if you become eligible in the future. For more information, refer to the Social Security Number (FFDL 8) Fast Facts brochure.

Residency Documents

You must provide 2 California residency document if applying for an ID or converting to a REAL ID Compliant ID. DMV will not accept an application without the accompanying residency documents. DMV will accept photocopies, “informational copies,” or computer-generated documents for residency purposes. All residency documents must list the applicant’s first and last name and the California residence address must match the residence address listed on the application. If an applicant’s residency document is not readily available, they may use a birth certificate, marriage license, or domestic partner registration certificate to trace their relationship to an individual to whom an acceptable residency document is addressed. For a complete list of acceptable residency documents, visit

Is There a Fee?

Generally, a fee is required when applying for an original ID card, renewing an ID card, or changing your name. In certain circumstances, the fee may be waived or reduced.

Reduced Fee ID Card—You may be eligible to pay a reduced application fee for an original or renewal ID card if you meet income requirements for selected assistance programs.

No Fee ID Card—If you are a “homeless person” as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act which includes, but is not limited to, a homeless child or youth, homeless person, or individual or family fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or another dangerous life-threatening condition, you may be eligible for a no fee ID card.

Senior ID Card—To qualify for a no fee senior citizen ID card, you must be 62 years old, or older.

For more information regarding a reduced fee ID card, senior ID card, or no fee ID card, visit

Application Process

To apply for an ID, you must complete a Driver License and Identification Card application and pay any fees. For current ID fees, visit

1.  Before visiting a DMV office:

  • Gather the identity, residency, and SSN documents you need to apply for an ID card.
  • Effective April 2018 DMV will begin offering an online DL and ID application process. Applicants will complete their electronic application before visiting DMV. Be sure to bring your application confirmation with you to your office visit.
  • Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office. Appointments can be made online at or by calling 1-800-777-0133. You may also verify payment options available at the DMV office.

2.  When you arrive at a DMV office, you will need:

  • Correct fee(s) for your application.
  • Original or certified documents(s) establishing identity, birth date, true full name.
  • Original document establishing proof of SSN if applying for a REAL ID Compliant ID.
  • Residency Document.
    The DMV representative may give you a number and/or direct you to wait. When it is your turn, you will be called to a window to process your application.

3.  When you are called to a DMV representative’s window:

  • Provide all of the documents listed previously. These documents are used to verify your information and establish a DMV record.
  • The DMV representative will scan your fingerprint. This fingerprint will also be used for taking your photograph.
  • After your information has been entered into the computer, an application fee (or any other applicable fee) will be collected.
  • Verify that all information printed on your licensing document is correct (for example, name and address), before leaving the DMV representative’s window. The DMV representative will direct you to the camera.
  • At the camera, your fingerprint will be rescanned and the DMV representative will capture your signature and take your photograph.

    The signature and photograph will appear on your ID card.

4.  Receiving your ID card:

  • If you do not receive your ID card within 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status.