Find Out How to Get a State ID Card


If you don’t wish to obtain a driver’s license, you may apply for a DMV ID card in order to have a state-issued form of photo identification.

As a general rule, a state ID card serves as an acceptable credential for dozens of legal procedures, from getting a passport to registering for a new job. Without any form of identification credential, you may struggle to prove your identity on different application procedures. Luckily, getting an ID card is a relatively simple process in most states.

ID Cards per State

Every state issues its own form of identification card, and many of those credentials are already REAL ID compliant. Overall, this means that ID cards issued through your state must comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005, which established federal standards for IDs. Thus, states that do not comply with the REAL ID Act may issue identity cards that will not be deemed acceptable for federal purposes in the near future. For example, a non-compliant ID will not be an acceptable identification form when you board a plane during a commercial flight.

Some states allow DMV nondriver ID card applicants to decide whether or not they want a REAL ID-compliant credential. If you are given the choice, always go for the REAL ID document. In some states, such as Kentucky, this credential is called a “Voluntary Travel ID.” Overall, not having this identification card may cost you in the long run. If you aren’t given a choice, chances are it’s because the only option in your state is a REAL ID. The only differences between the application for a REAL ID and the process to apply for a non-compliant ID are the documentation requirements. Generally, REAL IDs have more stringent requirements for what documents are acceptable.

Discover the Requirements You Need to Meet to Get a State ID

Before you apply for a state ID, you should figure out if you’re eligible to receive one. There are a few requirements in place for ID eligibility, most of which are standard across states. However, states will have different age requirements for ID card eligibility. To apply for a DMV nondriver ID, you typically must meet all the following qualifications:

  • You must live in the state full time, or at least the majority of the time.
  • You must not have a current driver’s license, especially in the case of REAL ID applications.
  • You must meet the age criteria. Some states issue ID cards to minors, whereas others have separate youth ID cards.

What do you need to get a state ID?

To get a state ID card, you need to present three sets of documents and, usually, fill out a form. The documents required are standard across REAL ID-compliant states. Non-compliant ID cards typically require the same kinds of paperwork but have more options for what documents are acceptable. Furthermore, be mindful that application forms and requirements may vary from state to state. Typically, you must provide the following documents:

Proof of Identity

  • Current US passport
  • Certified US birth certificate
  • Current foreign passport with valid US visa
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of US Citizenship
  • Permanent residence card
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • ID card or driver’s license from a different state

In any case, a document has to include your full name and date of birth in order to serve as an acceptable credential for a new ID card application. Additionally, these documents must generally be original or certified copies. Overall, it is important to check out the requirements in your state before applying for an identification card. Furthermore, you typically only need one document for proof of identity.

Proof of Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Social Security card (original)
  • W-2 form with name and SSN listed
  • Pay stub with name and SSN listed

In states that are not REAL ID compliant, verbally presenting or writing your Social Security Number will suffice. However, for a REAL ID card, you must provide verification of your SSN with one of the documents listed above. This is because of the REAL ID program scans and stores documents for verification purposes. In general, you only need one document to prove your Social Security Number.

Proof of Residency

  • Voter registration card
  • State or federal tax returns
  • School records listing name and address
  • Social Security check
  • Utility bill*
  • Credit card or bank statements*
  • Monthly mortgage statement*
  • Auto insurance documentation
  • Pay stub with name and address*
  • US Postal Service Mail*

*These items typically must have been delivered in the past 30 to 90 days, depending on your state.
Many states want you to provide two documents serving as proof of residency for a new ID card. Any document that lists your name and address can serve as potential proof of residency. However, states have different standards. Check with your state to decide what documents you should submit.

Learn About the Application Form

Most states have an application form you have to fill out in order to apply for a state ID. This form will ask for a number of details about you, most of which will be printed on your ID card. As a general rule, state forms will vary. However, application forms typically ask for the following information:

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security Number
  • Mailing address
  • Residential address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Signature

Discover the Steps You Need to Follow to Obtain a State ID

After you gather all of the paperwork you need to apply for a state ID, you can actually begin the application process. Because you need to verify documents to obtain an ID, most states require that you visit your local DMV office in person in order to apply. Thus, it is important to figure out where your nearest office is and whether you have to make an appointment far in advance. Some states allow walk-in ID card applications, while others require you to schedule this procedure ahead of time.

  1. Make an appointment or plan to visit your local DMV office.
  2. Bring your completed ID card application, two proofs of residency, proof of Social Security Number and proof of identity to the DMV.
  3. Meet with an agent and present your documents.
  4. Pay the fee for a new ID card. Fees can range from under $10 to more than $50, depending on your state and what kind of state ID you’re requesting.
  5. Typically, you will be given a temporary ID card to use until your new one arrives in the mail.
  6. Go home. You will get your new state ID in the mail within a few weeks of your appointment.