US driver’s license card is very similar to the national identification card in Thailand and other countries. In the US, it is mandatory for every driver to have this card because not only does it serve as a driver’s license, it can also be used to confirm the person’s identity. Situations that require such activity may include bank transactions such as opening a new bank account or applying for a credit card, purchasing merchandises at a store where occasionally the store clerk may need to verify your ID, or using it to board your (domestic) flight.
If you can’t drive, or are unable to drive a vehicle, but still want to have some sort of an ID card with you, there’s another type of card that you can apply for — a state ID card. This card can be used to confirm your identity similar to a driver’s license and can be used to board a plane but it cannot replace a driver’s license when driving.
Real ID card
Real ID card is an ID card with a gold or black star icon on the top right corner of the card. Starting October 1, 2020, you must have a Real ID card to be able to enter federal facilities including boarding an airplane. If you’re applying for an ID card before October 1, 2020, you can still choose whether you want a regular card or a Real ID card. It’s probably wiser to go for the Real ID so you don’t have to worry about it later on. If you already have a regular ID card and would like to upgrade, you can apply for a new one at the DMV.
Where to get a state ID card
You can apply for a driver’s license or ID card at the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV in your state of residence. Every state has more than one DMV locations and may have a different name. It may be called Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Division of Motor Vehicles, Motor Vehicle Division or Registry of Motor Vehicles, for example.
How to find a DMV near you
The easiest way would be to ask Google. Use a phrase such as “DMV near me” or “where to get a state ID in state name” (replace state name with your state of residence).
Required documents when applying for a state ID card
- Proof of your name, last name, and date of birth
Examples: birth certificate, passport, green card, work permit
- Proof of identity
Examples: marriage certificate, student ID card, Social Security card, W-2, passport
- Proof of residence
Examples: water/electric/phone/cable/internet bills, employee ID card, bank statement, apartment lease. Basically any official document that has your address on it to show to the officer that you reside in that state.
- Proof of citizenship or legal status in the US
Examples: green card, work permit, DS-2019
- Social Security card
Your Social Security card
When I went to my local DMV, I had just arrived in America and had just paid for my green card so I didn’t have an actual green card with me yet. So all that I had with me to show the DMV officer were my passport with an IR-1 visa (which legally servers as your green card until you recieve an actual, physical card), my Social Security card, and my phone bill that has my address on it.
How to get a state ID card
- Documents from each of the 5 categories mentioned above:
- 1. Proof of your name, last name, and date of birth
- 2. Proof of identity
- 3. Proof of residence
- 4. Proof of citizenship or legal status in the US
- 5. Social Security card
Go to your nearest DMV in the state that you reside in.
Once in the building, fetch a waiting ticket or stand in line at the front desk. When it is your turn, tell the officer that you want to apply for a state ID. The officer may screen your documents quickly before handing you an application form.
When it is your turn, the officer will ask to see all of your documents. Then you'll be required to take a head shot and scan your fingerprints.
Pay the fees. Price may vary according to states. Find the exact price from your local DMV's website. Generally it's not more than $60.
The officer will enter your information into the system and give you a receipt. You'll be informed that the ID card will be mailed you within 7-10 business days.
Check all the information on that receipt carefully. Make sure the spelling of your name, last name, date of birth, and address are all correct before leaving the facility. Then wait for the ID card at home.
This post is also available in: Thai