The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the agency in charge of issuing and renewing driver’s licenses as well as of administering vehicle registrations; it is under state governance.
Although every state is expected to set specific requirements for issuing and renewing vehicle-related documents, most DMV state agencies share common criteria, such as acceptable forms of ID.
To issue or renew any form of documentation, DMV offices must corroborate age, identity and U.S. citizenship. Most DMV agencies accept similar valid proofs of identification. However, some do include a few additional documents, which is why we compiled an extensive list of forms of ID most local DMVs accept as valid.
One of the most common forms of ID is the U.S. birth certificate. This document is required not only to get a driver’s license or to register your vehicle but also to apply for a passport, claim a pension, enroll in a school or join the military, among others. Birth certificates prove citizenship, name, city and country of birth of specific individuals, as well as the name of their parents.
Most offices require the original certificate. However, if you need to replace it, you can get a certified copy of your birth certificate by contacting the Vital Records Office of the state you were born in and follow the instructions. If you need it urgently, some offices provide an expedited service option for an additional fee.
Important: If the name in your birth certificate is not correct, you will need to provide a second form of ID, such as a marriage certificate, a civil union certificate or even a divorce or end-of-civil-union certificate.
As an alternative to birth certificates, most DMV state agencies also accept registrations of birth, which are documents issued by the local government authority; this registration provides legal recognition. It is also the document every U.S. citizen needs to present to obtain a birth certificate.
However, hospital-issued registrations of birth are not be accepted; they need to be issued by a government agency.
Valid U.S. passports is another commonly accepted form of ID at DMV offices throughout the country. There are two possible documents you can use to travel abroad: a U.S.-issued passport and a passport card. There are a few differences between them:
State identification cards are issued by local DMV offices and serves as a credential for numerous legal procedures, such as getting a passport. DMV State ID cards are ideal for those who don’t yet have the age required to get a driver’s license or don’t actually want to get one. It’s a very reliable form of ID and very simple to obtain in most states.
However, we do recommend you check with your local DMV office to make sure they accept state identification cards as a valid form of ID.
Depending on the state you currently reside in, your driver’s license may actually serve as a valid proof of identity at the DMV. Nevertheless, we recommend you check with your local DMV agency, since many offices only accept driver’s licenses or learner’s permits as secondary proof of ID.
Issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Social Security card is key for several legal processes, such as collecting Social Security benefits, getting a job or gaining access to other government services, and could be a valid form of ID.
This document contains a nine-digit, unique number known as the social security number that the U.S. Social Security Administration uses to record the wages and earnings of every U.S. worker, as well as to monitor benefits granted by the government to individuals.
Non-U.S. citizens who need to provide proof of ID at any DMV office can present any of the following documents to the local DMV office:
Normally, most state DMV agencies accept any of these documents. However, we recommend you check with your local DMV office which documents are considered acceptable forms of ID in that specific state.
Some states require two separate proofs of ID. The secondary valid forms of ID most commonly accepted by states are:
Despite the fact that this comprehensive list does include most valid proofs of identity accepted by DMV agencies, we recommend you check directly with your state DMV office, saving time and, possibly, money.