Changes to Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards

Changes to Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards

Beginning July 2018, changes will be coming to all new licenses and all renewals or replacements after that date. All standard licenses will have ‘FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” at the top of each card which will indicate the license is not valid for federal purposes. Starting in October 2020, standard Washington licenses and ID cards will no longer be accepted as ID for federal purposes. This includes air travel. Enhanced licenses are still valid for this purpose. Adding “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” helps Washington State comply with REAL ID. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The government believes secure driver’s licenses are a vital component of our national security and is requiring compliance from every State.

The DRIVES system will be another change beginning September 4, 2018. This means all new and renewed licenses will receive a different number. These will start with “WDL” followed by random alphabetical letters and numbers. This new system enables DOL to have more combinations to choose for new licenses. It also is more secure because it does not use the name or birth date.

These changes are expected to take six years to be completed. The slow change is expected to help drivers get used to the new format.


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