Got your REAL ID card yet? Looking for a workaround?


You’ve got at least 15 options

If you’re a world traveler, but don’t have a required “REAL ID,” yet, the actual hoops you have to jump through are fewer than you think they are.

Yes, you have a year – until May 7, 2025 – but U.S. travelers will have to be REAL ID compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities, so with the hassle of getting one, it's a timely topic to discuss.

Rather than waiting at the DMV and wasting valuable time and effort to prematurely renew for a REAL ID "enhanced" driver's license, David Alwadish, the founder & CEO of Passport & Visa Services, a passport and visa concierge company, shared how you can get a Real-ID compliant passport card instead of standing in line at the DMV to get one. 

The answers

Alwadish says there are several answers to the problem, the main one being a “passport card” – a wallet-sized, plastic passport (without all those visa pages) that is all the proof you need that you are a U.S. citizen. 

The card’s cost for first time applicants is $65 for adults and $50 for children under age 16. The cost for renewal is $30 for adults. 

Travelers can easily add the passport card to their passport renewal application through the Department of State, for just $30 by simply checking a box on the renewal form. 

“Since the card is valid for 10 years, this is a great option for everyone renewing their passport books right now,” Alwadish told ConsumerAffairs. 

“Even those who have already started the renewal process by mailing in their application should be able to add the passport card by calling the Department of State Customer Service hotline (877-487-2778), to have their order updated with the inclusion of the passport card. This ensures the passport card and passport book expire at the same time.”

He also recommends applying for a passport card by mail as a "renewal" if you already have a passport book and qualify to use Form DS-82

But a passport card isn’t the only workaround. In ConsumerAffairs research, you can use an actual U.S. passport as well as these other forms of ID to work in place of a REAL ID are:

  • DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)

  • U.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®)

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)

  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

Tick, tick, tick

If you haven’t checked your passport in a while, this may be an extra incentive to find out when it renews. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. And some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met, Alwadish reminds travelers.

Looking to protect what matters most? Get matched with your best security system.