Passport vs. REAL ID

Passport vs. REAL ID

As you’re preparing for your next travel adventure, whether it be for a big business meeting with potential clients or for a gorgeous, Instagram worthy vacation, the form of ID you’re planning on bringing to the airport with you is probably the last thing on your mind. Isn’t it as simple as pulling out your passport or driver’s license? What is a REAL ID anyway? We’re going to take this one step at a time to give you all the information you need to know about a passport vs. REAL ID, so that you can stop worrying about airport formalities and start getting excited about your trip.

Before we get into the details about bringing a passport vs. REAL ID to the airport with you, let’s cover the basics first. Have you seen all the latest news about REAL ID yet? Are you still wondering what a REAL ID is and if you need one? Check out the first blog in our REAL ID series here, which covers what a REAL ID is, when you should get one, and what happens if you choose not to get one. Next, head on over to this blog for more information on which states are currently REAL ID compliant. This will help you to determine when the REAL ID Act will be enforced in your home state, and if your state is operating under a new deadline. Lastly, Official Travel Documents is worthy of a bookmark to help keep you up to date on all the latest REAL ID news.

Now that we’re all caught up on everything and anything REAL ID, what should you bring with you to the airport for your upcoming trip? This probably depends on how much time you have before your flight and whether your passport is up to date. If your passport isn’t expired, and your flight is just days away, the easiest thing to do would be to just bring your passport with you as your form of identification. You may already be using your passport as your main form of ID when flying, which makes it a no brainer.

What if your passport is expired? If this is the case, expect the renewal process to take about 4 to 6 weeks. You can find more information about renewing your passport here. Passport renewal delays happen due to a large influx of passport requests, delaying the process further. You can read more information here on how you can do your best to avoid those delays and expedite the process as much as possible.

If you’re thinking that applying for a REAL ID is a better option for you, great! The first step will be to look up if your state is already REAL ID compliant, to ensure you can apply for your REAL ID at your local DMV. Try heading over to their website first for more information. Once you’re sure you’ll be able to apply for a REAL ID in your home state, it’s time to gather all the documents you’ll need at the DMV. You will likely need the following to apply for a REAL ID, but you should find specific details on your state’s DMV website:

  • Proof of identity – a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, an employment authorization document, permanent resident card, or a foreign passport with an approved form
  • Proof of Social Security number – SS card, a W-2, or a pay stub with full SSN
  • Residency document – rental or lease agreement, mortgage or utility bill, etc.
  • A name change document, like a marriage certificate, may also be required

We hope this helped you to consider your options about a passport vs. REAL ID. The stress of errands and prepping for your trip, plus packing and heading to the airport, can be overwhelming. Hopefully this is one more thing for you to check off of your list. If you need any assistance with vital records, like a birth or marriage certificate, VitalChek is here to help. Safe travels!


  1. I want to correct my douther last name, how can I do that

    1. Thank you for your question Medardo. Since each issuing agency may have slightly different rules about changing/correcting a birth certificate, the best way to proceed is to contact the vital record agency that issued the certificate directly

  2. hello,
    I filled out correction form to correct my baby’s name on birth certificate and I sent it to Sacramento where is the place that vital office told me to send.
    its been 4 weeks but still no return. How can I make sure that they have my document or How long does it take?
    if you can help me I will really appreciate
    thank you

    1. Hello Merve. The California Department of Public Health handles corrections and amendments to California vital records. Please click here to visit their website for their contact information.

  3. I filled out your form for a copy of my Birth Certificate…I did not get a pin number or the other info. I also did not see a completion to send the information. How can I make sure you got my information to process this request?

    1. Hello Karen. We’re sorry to hear about the ordering issue you have encountered. Please contact us so we can look into this for you. The quickest way to reach us is by Private message at You can also call us at 800-255-2414 or email us at

  4. As a female married with a passport with married
    Name can I get a real ID without having to track down information on my ex

    1. Hello Glenna. We suggest you contact the DMV in your state to find out what documentation they will require for you to receive your real ID.

  5. Can the id be used in place of having to get a passport for traveling outside the U.S.?

    1. Hello Dorinda. You will still need your passport for travel outside the U.S.

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