Beginning May 3, 2023, your South Carolina driver's license or identification card must have a gold star to show it's a REAL ID in order to use it as your identification to board a domestic, commercial flight, enter a secure federal building, or visit a military installation*. Purchase yours today and avoid longer lines in the future.

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About REAL ID

The US Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005 as a result of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation to standardize government-issued identifications, like driver’s licenses. This is a federal law that affects federal agencies, federal buildings, and military bases. A REAL ID license is valid for no more than eight years.

If you have a question about a specific entity you're visiting and what its identification requirements are, you should contact that facility directly and ask if you must have a REAL ID to enter.

You will either have a REAL ID license or ID that has a gold star OR a standard license or ID that says "Not for Federal Identification." There are no driving privileges with any ID cards. 

A gold star on your license or ID designates it as a REAL ID. If your license or ID does not have a gold star, it will have a message stating "Not for Federal Identification" and is not compliant with REAL ID.

South Carolina's REAL ID driver's license

South Carolina's REAL ID Status

The US Department of Homeland Security has deemed South Carolina as fully compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005. Federal agencies may continue to accept, for official purposes, all unexpired SC driver's licenses and identification cards between now and May 2, 2023.

It is optional to change to a REAL ID

If you do not think you have a need to fly, enter a federal building, or visit a military installation* you do not need a REAL ID.  However, if you suddenly need to fly on or after May 3, 2023 and you do not have a valid US Passport, military ID, or another federally approved identification, you will need a REAL ID in order to board a domestic, commercial flight. Regardless of whether you buy a REAL ID or not, you must still have an unexpired US Passport to travel internationally.

You do not need a REAL ID driver's license or identification card to do any of the following:

  • Drive
  • Vote
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits for which you’re entitled (Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, etc.)
  • Enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (i.e. a post office)
  • Access a hospital or receive life-saving services
  • Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (serve on a federal jury, testify in federal court, etc.)

If you have a valid US Passport, military ID, or another federal identification that's accepted to pass airport security, you may use it instead of changing your SC license or ID to a REAL ID. 

Documents needed for a REAL ID

If you have a valid US Passport/Passport Card with your current legal name that matches the information on file with the Social Security Administration and is also the name listed on your two proofs of physical South Carolina address, you have what is needed to purchase a REAL ID.  You must have original or government-issued copies of all documents. The SCDMV will not accept copied or scanned versions. You can find a complete list of accepted documents on the United States Citizens’ Checklist (SCDMV Form MV-93).

Here are examples of acceptable documents as well as what is needed if you have had a legal name change.  

  • Proof of Identity
    • Examples:  Government-issued birth certificate or unexpired US Passport      
  • Two Proofs of Current, Physical SC Address
    • Examples:  Current, unexpired South Carolina driver's license or identification card and a no more than 90-day-old utility bill with the same name and address
      View a complete list of all accepted address documents on the United States Citizens’ Checklist (SCDMV Form MV-93).
  • Proof of Legal Name
    • Examples:  Marriage license, divorce decree, or court order issued by your county's probate or family court
      You must show a complete name change history that links your birth certificate name to your present day name. If you have a valid US Passport or US Passport Card with your current, legal name, you may use that as your name change document. More information on how to change your name.

If you are moving to South Carolina from out-of-state and do not have your current license, you must provide a driving record from that state as proof of driving. 

If you are a Veteran who has honorably served in the country's armed services, you may bring your Discharge Certificate (DOD Form DD-214) that shows you were honorably discharged to add the "Veteran" designation to your driver's license or identification card. 

How to Obtain a REAL ID

You have options on how to obtain a REAL ID driver's license or identification card. To purchase a REAL ID, you must have the correct documentation with you if the documents are not already on file with the SCDMV.

Use the SCDMV's 'Sweet Caroline' application to guide you through the required documents and confirm you have all you need to purchase your REAL ID.

Driver's License Holders

Changing your driver's license (Class D), motorcycle license (Class M), or non-commercial license (Class E and F) to a REAL ID works the same as if you were renewing your license

You may visit an SCDMV branch and purchase a REAL ID as long as you have all required documents listed above. 

Find an SCDMV Branch

Online Renewals for REAL ID

You may be able to purchase your REAL ID driver’s license online if the required documents are on file with the SCDMV, and you have visited an SC-licensed eye care professional who electronically transmitted a passing Certificate of Vision Examination. Not everyone is eligible for purchasing their REAL ID license online. Click the green button below to see if you’re eligible.

  • If you're eligible, you'll be taken through a series of questions and see an option to buy a REAL ID license. If you are able to order and purchase your REAL ID license online, it may take up to fifteen business days to arrive at the address on file.
  • If you do not see an option to buy, you are not eligible for purchasing your REAL ID license online and must visit an SCDMV branch with the correct documents.

REAL ID commercial driver's licenses, and licenses for international customers are not available online (more information below).

Document check and Buy my REAL ID license

Commercial Driver's License Holders

Changing your Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to a REAL ID CDL works the same as if you were renewing your CDL. You may visit an SCDMV branch to purchase a REAL ID CDL as long as you have all required documents

In addition to the documents above, bring your current CDL to turn in, and your Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) medical qualification certificate, if applicable. You must also acknowledge the FMCSA regulations, complete the CDL Holder’s Medical Certification (SCDMV Form DL-405A), pass a vision test, pay the $15 application fee, and pay $25 for the new REAL ID CDL. The REAL ID CDL is valid for eight years unless you have a hazmat endorsement, which is valid for no more than five years and costs $15. 

ID Holders

If you have an identification card (ID), you may visit an SCDMV branch to change your card to a REAL ID identification card as long as you have all required documents listed above.

If you’re 5 to 16 years old, your ID is $15. If you’re 17 or older, your ID is free. If you have an ID you do not have driving privileges and cannot drive a vehicle.

International Customers

The requirements for international customers to buy a REAL ID are different than what's above.

In addition to all of the required documents above, you must provide proof of your authorized length of stay within the US. If you’re interested in the documentation requirements for international customers, see the International Customers’ Checklist (SCDMV Form MV-94).

International customers must visit an SCDMV branch that completes international customer transactions. If you’re eligible for a license or ID, you will receive a card that is valid for the same length of time as your authorized length of stay in the US, but it will not be valid for more than five years. 

*Military Installation Disclaimer

You must have a reason to visit a military installation, and, even with a REAL ID, you may be subject to additional visitor control measures once on site.

While the Department of Homeland Security is the agency governing the implementation of REAL ID for commercial flights and secure federal buildings, the Department of Defense may choose to implement REAL ID at a different timeline for military installations. Not only must you have a reason to visit a military installation, you may also be subject to additional visitor control measures once on site even if you have a REAL ID. Also, military installations can determine what to accept and not accept as valid identification. If you have a question about whether or not your identification will get you on a military installation, contact the military installation.