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I need to fly across the US in about two weeks. Currently, the only ID that I have is a passport, which will be expired then. Is it possible for me to either get a new passport or California ID, that will allow me to board a plane in two weeks?

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    More info please. What's your citizenship and legal status for the US? If you are a resident, your driver's licence will work fine for a domestic flight. Take a look at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification – Hilmar Jan 21 at 23:48
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    @Hilmar, I am a US citizen and resident, but I have not gotten a drivers license yet. – 888 Jan 22 at 0:01
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    Be cautious about a plan involving bringing your expired passport as you may need to submit it for your renewal, in which case you may not have it. – mongo Jan 22 at 12:23
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    I'm almost certain that in the USA, you can renew a passport urgently - very quickly. It will cost you a fee, but that's government for you. I think you can actually do it like within a day or two. – Fattie Jan 22 at 14:04
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    @Fattie I thought about mentioning that, but the two-week service generally requires proof of imminent international travel. They probably ought to change that now to include domestic travel, but I doubt they have. – phoog Jan 22 at 15:30
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If the passport is a U.S. passport expired less than one year the TSA will still accept it. See Four Tips To Remember When Checking Your ID At Airport Security at the TSA blog:

If you’re traveling with an expired license or passport you may still be able to fly. Acceptable forms of ID cannot be more than 12 months past the identified expiration date.

If it's expired more than one year you should still bring it, along with something else that has biographical information. A social security card, birth certificate, even a utility bill or something similar, along with your expired passport will get you through with a little extra scrutiny.

Even if you bring no identification whatsoever, the TSA has a process to identify you using public records. This will also lead to a little extra scrutiny.

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    Do you have a link for that statement about the passport? – Peter M Jan 22 at 12:49
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    @Peter M, tsa.gov/blog/2018/08/02/…, Item 2 second paragraph. – Salty Potter Jan 22 at 13:19
  • @AndrewT. I've taken the liberty of adding the link and quotation. Salty Potter, please change anything I've added as you see fit. This is a great find, but it does somewhat conflict with the main page on the subject, which says "valid identification" without further qualification, so one might want to be prepared with a printout of the blog page in case the TSA agent has a different opinion about the acceptability of recently expired documents. – phoog Jan 22 at 15:29
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    @phoog Scroll down to the bottom of that page, and there's info about the alternate "identity verification process". Sally Potter, it might be worth noting the bit about allowing extra time for this process and being "subject to additional screening" including possibly "a patdown and screening of carry-on property." – 1006a Jan 22 at 17:57
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    @1006a I'm aware of the alternate process; I've even traveled with someone who used it. But the blog page implies that a document expired for less than one year might be able to save one from the alternate process (since one can use that process even without a recently-expired document). – phoog Jan 22 at 18:06
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I would suggest that you go to the DMV tomorrow and apply for a non-driver ID. The card will be mailed to you, and it might come in the next two weeks if you are lucky.

In principle you could also apply for a driver's license, but this will also require you to take some tests, and adds the risk that you might not pass. If you would have to take a road test, this might require an appointment which may not be available right away.

A passport renewal will probably take more than two weeks. Expedited processing might make it happen in time, but is quite expensive. There can be a possibility for same-day passport renewal if you go to a passport agency, but there are only three in California, and this also typically requires proof of imminent international travel.

Even if you don't get your ID in time, you can still go to the airport and hope that TSA can verify your identity. See https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification under "Forget Your ID?". Bring every form of identification you have (the expired passport, student ID, credit card, utility bills, library card, receipt from your driver's license application, etc.).

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    And the expired passport. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 22 at 0:29
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    Ha. My passport came in four weeks with normal service. My DL came in seven weeks. I wouldn't count on that. – Michael Hampton Jan 22 at 1:04
  • A learner's permit, or instructional permit, would require a written but not a driving test and might be an alternative to a driver's license (at the DMV, in reference to paragraph 2). You can fly using such a permit since they conform to the state id requirements. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Jan 22 at 3:47
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas: Is a California instruction permit a physical card with photo, these days? They used to be just a paper printout, and Google isn't helping me find out whether that has changed. – Nate Eldredge Jan 22 at 4:27
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    @Mark The TSA website explicitly says that they don't accept temporary licenses. – Michael Hampton Jan 23 at 0:47
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You don't necessarily need a state ID. TSA will accept alternate ID.

A driver's license is simply a state ID card that also authorizes driving.

Your best hope is to get a California state ID card. I recommend you do not overload the task and try to get your driver's license also, because that's a huge production. However you can ask whether a REAL ID card can happen as fast as a plain ID, if so, it's a few dollars now but will save you the trouble of returning next year when it will be a total madhouse because REAL ID will be required to fly after October 2020.

California is being forced into REAL ID by TSA, so they have tightened up on the documents you require for plain IDs also. You need several types of documents:

  • an original birth certificate, passport or similar
  • social security number, or for REAL ID, an original social security card or documents that show your social securiry number, such as a paystub.
  • proof of residency: certain items of mail, mailed to you at a particular address in the state that is not a PO box or PMB. If you don't have this yet, you're in trouble :b

If you already have all the documents required on the DMV website, just go tomorrow morning to a DMV an hour before they open and get in line. Figure on a good long while there. Some have a system where your first stop is a clerk who checks to see that you have all the required paperwork, and then you "take a number", and may let you run home and get the missing piece while you are in the queue. So don't let your ride leave you there until you know you have everything.

The Federal SSA office wasn't bad to deal with (they're all over). They do not like expired documents, so if you don't have a Social Security card, get it before your passport expires.

Oh, and one more thing. Chances are the SSA office is closed due to the Federal shutdown.

  • "they will need to switch everyone over...": they don't need to. New York isn't, for example. Also, if the passport is still valid tomorrow, there should be no need for a birth certificate. – phoog Jan 22 at 6:16
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    "so they're requiring the same documents for a plain ID as a REAL ID" Not sure what you mean by "plain ID". But the document requirements for a California REAL ID driver's license or state ID and for a California non-REAL-ID (federal non-compliant) driver's license or state ID are pretty different. – user102008 Jan 22 at 7:31
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    "so they have tightened up on the documents you require for plain IDs also" If by "plain ID" you mean a California non-REAL ID (federal non-compliant) driver's license or state ID, as far as I can tell, the documentation requirements for those (linked in previous comment) are essentially the same as the requirements for driver's licenses and state IDs from before REAL ID was rolled out. – user102008 Jan 22 at 7:37
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    You spend some time in your answer talking about arriving early at the DMV and waiting in lines. That's definitely good advice, but California (and most other states AFAIK) offer online appointment booking, which lets you pick an arrival time from home. This really takes the guesswork out of wondering how long you'll wait or what the crowds will be like. Might be worth editing it into your answer: dmv.ca.gov/wasapp/foa/… – dwizum Jan 22 at 14:08
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    @dwizum Good thought, but OP needs a same-day appointment, and that system doesn't even offer a same week appointment. Or even same-month appointment IME. Seriously. I cannot overstate how incompatible that system is with OP's need. Flipping seriously, did I say "month"? I meant "quarter". I just fact checked myself. The system gave me an appointment next quarter (April 20) and it's January. – Harper Jan 22 at 16:27

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