Californians seeking a Real ID can now upload their identification documents to the Department of Motor Vehicles in advance, saving time once they go to the DMV to finalize their applications for the new ID card.

Anyone planning to take a commercial flight beginning in October must have either a Real ID or a passport. A Real ID will also be required for those seeking to enter certain federal buildings and other facilities.

The DMV has issued repeated reminders urging Californians not to wait to apply for their Real ID cards, as a significant portion of the population has not yet begun the process.

To obtain a Real ID, applicants must follow several steps and provide several specific documents, which are detailed on the DMV’s website and in a YouTube video. The department has also published a list of Frequently Asked Questions for those seeking more guidance or detail. 

Until now, customers had to bring those documents to the DMV, where they’d be checked and verified. With the DMV’s new offering, customers may upload their documentation to the DMV in advance and then use the “Express Experience” to expedite the time spent in the DMV office. The Express Experience is available at DMV offices in Davis, El Monte, Fremont, Fullerton, Laguna Hills, Los Gatos, Manteca, Newhall, Pasadena, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Sacramento Broadway, San Clemente, San Diego, San Francisco, the San Jose Driver License Processing Center, San Mateo, San Pedro, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Temecula, Vacaville and Walnut Creek.

“More than 21,000 customers completed this process by the end of February, and DMV anticipates the new service will be available statewide by June,” the agency said Monday in a news release.

DMV Director Steve Gordon was appointed last summer by Gov. Gavin Newsom with the mandate to cut DMV delays and improve efficiency and speed of service. A variety of efforts are underway, through the state’s RFI2 flexible bid/procurement process.

In Monday’s news release, Gordon said: “No more excuses. No reason for Californians who want a Real ID not to come to an office. No appointment is needed, and now there is an option to bring your confirmation and be treated as if you have an appointment. Fill out the application, upload your documents and bring those documents with your confirmation number for an ‘Express Experience’ the same day or at your earliest convenience.

“The convenient program allows customers planning to get a Real ID to upload documents for authentication prior to visiting the office to shorten the Real ID application process in the office,” Gordon added. “The customer can then visit a field office the same day or at their earliest convenience to receive express service without an appointment. The confirmation is their reservation.”

The DMV is now allowing customers to go to an office, provide their cellphone number, and then be notified by text when their place in line is nearing the front.

“With this information, you can leave the office, run an errand or drop the kids off at school and know when your turn is close,” said Gordon.

“Soon, DMV customers will receive a mobile ticket via text that they can track through the process,” the agency said Monday. “Customers will receive a number when checking in at a DMV office and will automatically be notified of their place in line and estimated wait time.” 

Real IDs have a small image of a Golden Bear on the upper right corner. Those that are not Real IDs have the words "Federal Limits Apply" in that space.