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Let's say you have a driver's license from your state, and it's a REAL ID.
Now you're moving to another state, but you won't be driving there, and you don't have any vehicles registered in your name.

Generally speaking, are there any legal practical requirements (whether at the state or federal level) regarding whether/when you must get an updated ID, or can you keep using your old ID indefinitely for identification purposes?
And are there any scenarios where you technically don't legally need an ID from the new state, but where you'd face legal practical headaches if you stick with your old state (like, say, jury duty)?

And does this answer depend on whether your old address will still be a valid address for you?
(Say, if it's a second home/family/etc. that you might go back to occasionally.)

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    I would think this question would be way more fitting for Law.SE than here Jun 16 at 8:15
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    I’m not sure if this is on topic for Travel
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 16 at 17:09
  • I feel like people are too focused on "is there any possible way to legally to avoid getting carrying an ID" vs. "are there common situations where I would legally need a new ID?" To throw out some examples I can imagine (obviously there might be more I can't think of): might TSA care if my REAL ID is from a different state? Would my old state care if I change my address to a different state, but keep using their DL as an ID-only? etc.
    – user541686
    Jun 17 at 0:17
  • Also helpful would be to know cases where "you legally don't need a new ID, but you will be asking for a potentially huge legal headache if you don't get one". One example I can imagine: what happens to things like jury duty? If you're far from the old state, presumably you'd be exempt from being summoned there (?) and yet the new state wouldn't have you in their database either, so you wouldn't get summoned there either (?)... so do you just... fall through the cracks? Or does the old state summon send you a summons in another state and then you have to reply that you don't live there? etc.
    – user541686
    Jun 17 at 0:25
  • @user541686 Was under the impression that you were asking this question in the context of travel. It sounds like you are not asking a travel question; would tend to agree with the other comments that you should ask in another Stack Exchange.
    – travelgasm
    Jun 17 at 0:28

3 Answers 3

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There are 50 US states with varying legal requirements, but no US law requires a US citizen to carry ID in the United States.

In practice, even if you do not drive, you can’t get away with using your old ID indefinitely; it will expire at some point. If your driver’s license is expired, even a bouncer or bartender likely would send you away. Generally, it is more of a hassle to get a new ID card if your old one expired ages ago, as well.

Many US states (California and Texas, for example) — perhaps all US states — do allow you to apply for an ID that is just for identification and that is separate from a driver’s license.

If you’re the type of person who travels frequently, though, would suggest that you consider a US Passport Card in addition to your US Passport. A US Passport Card can be used for identification as an alternative to an ID issued by a US state inside and outside of the US as well as for travel inside the US.

If you do not plan to drive in the future, an up-to-date US Passport Card could be more convenient for you than worrying about whether or not you have been in a place long enough to merit applying for a new state-specific ID or if your old one with your parents' address still is really valid, etc.

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  • "inside and outside of the US": there's no guarantee that it would be accepted by anyone outside the US other than North American immigration officers (since that's what it was developed for). Yes, you would probably be fine using it for most purposes in Europe, but (for example) it isn't technically sufficient for a police ID check in Germany or probably most other European countries. Another advantage of the passport card is that it's valid for 10 years, longer at least than my driver's license.
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 14:14
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    @phoog This is accurate as written. A US Passport Card is a valid US identification card that definitely is suitable as an alternative to a state-issued ID for use anywhere where a valid US state-issued ID would be acceptable outside of the US. In practice, a US Passport Card is significantly more likely to be accepted outside of the US than a US state-issued ID.
    – travelgasm
    Jun 16 at 14:27
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    US state issued ID, like the US passport card, is accepted outside the US (as proof of identification) only at the discretion of the person being shown the ID. By contrast, driver's licenses are required to be accepted as proof of being licensed to drive. The US explicitly disclaims validity of the passport card outside North America; any unilateral decision by another country to accept it is something that a traveler should verify before traveling.
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 14:33
  • @phoog True, there commonly is discretion involved regarding which identification to accept. For clarity that state-issued ID is referring to a US state and not state as in a country, I have edited "state-issued ID" to an "ID issued by a US state." Remember that the question is explicitly not about a driver's license, as well. Hope this helps.
    – travelgasm
    Jun 16 at 14:39
  • "there commonly is discretion": in countries with formal documentary ID laws, an officer may have discretion as to whether an ID check is formal. That is, they might let you get away with a US driver's license or passport card by not invoking the ID law. If you're actually a suspect, or the officer is particularly officious, or if for any other reason the check is formal, you're out of luck. I only mention driver's licenses because there is a treaty requiring its signatories to accept them as proof of being able to drive. The only document with similar status as proof of ID is the passport.
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 22:41
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OP, this is a frame challenge, or at least a criticism of the question and its title as currently phrased. As phrased: if you don't want to drive a motor vehicle, you don't need to get a new ID from your state, so the answer is "You don't."

In reality, the question assumes sub silentio that a US state (or the federal government) requires a US resident or citizen to obtain an ID. This assumption is not correct.

There is no state-level or federal-government level requirement that people within the borders of the US have or carry an ID. Neither the federal nor the state governments issue a mandatory ID.

All of this is different from many other countries, which do have such a requirement and do issue mandatory national or state IDs for (at least some) people within the country's borders.

In specific cases, however, many people are required to obtain or even carry a governmental ID. States (and I assume the District of Columbia as well) do issue non-drivers'-license ID cards, but no one is required to have or carry such an ID. To be sure, this set of people is smaller than the general set, but it's still a lot of people. For example (and not by way of limitation):

  • Drivers of motor vehicles on public streets must have a state-issued (or federal-issued, for the District of Columbia) driver's license from that jurisdiction, and must carry that license when driving a vehicle on a public roadway. There are some exceptions in some places (e.g., very small mopeds, people from other countries or states who are recently-arrived), but have-and-carry-a-license is the general rule for people who drive motor vehicles.

  • US Lawful Permanent Residents ("Green Card" holders) are required by the Immigration and Nationality Act to carry the Card "at all times."

  • Satisfactory ID evidence is required to be held and presented to TSA by those departing via commercial aviation from a US airport.

  • Travel documents (usually passports and visas) are required of those deparing via commercial aviation from a US airport for a non-US airport.

  • ID information is required by the airline to be submitted to APIS in order to receive clearance from Customs and Border Protection that the individual is not on a "Don't Fly" list and can be issued a boarding pass.

  • To check out a book from a public library, one must have a library card. To obtain a library card, the library will require ID.

This list could continue for pages: Want medical care? Look underage and want to buy a beer? Want to open a credit card or a bank account? Want to enroll in public school? et cetera ad infinitum

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    For most of those things (except driving of course) you do not need a driving license and can get a nation wide alternative rather than a state bound driving license. And in several cases you need a passport or a 'green card'.
    – Willeke
    Jun 16 at 19:36
  • I believe the INA requires anyone who's subject to the act to carry an id at any time. In fact, that's why undocumented immigrants are not in fact illegal - they're not subject to the INA and as such their lack of documentation is not breaking any law. Tourists, students, any other legal visitors or LPRs are in fact required to carry identification and evidence of their legal status with them at all times by the INA.
    – littleadv
    Jun 16 at 20:51
  • @littleadv Yes. Exactly why I wrote "...and not by way of limitation..." Jun 16 at 21:40
  • @littleadv the INA requires certain aliens to carry with them an "alien registration receipt" if they have been issued such a receipt. Many of the documents identified in the regulations as alien registration receipts are not identification documents (notably the I-94 form). Someone who entered without inspection can't violate this provision of the INA, but they most certainly are subject to the INA generally, and they are violating several other of its provisions. Visitors are supposedly required to carry the I-94, but aren't actually given one. There's no explicit requirement to carry ID.
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 22:49
  • David: "must carry that license when driving a vehicle on a public roadway": not in every state, at least not in New Hampshire.
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 22:52
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Are there any legal requirements (whether at the state or federal level) regarding whether/when you must get an updated ID

Depends on the state, e.g. yes in Washington state, from RCW 46.20.021:

New Washington residents must obtain a valid Washington driver's license within thirty days from the date they become residents.

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    That is a driving license, OP states not driving so not needing a driving license.
    – Willeke
    Jun 16 at 10:18
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    @Willeke is correct. The law is poorly worded. What it really means is that new Washington residents are allowed to drive using an out-of-state license for up to 30 days after the date they become residents. Anyone who doesn't drive in Washington after the 30 days are up can refrain from obtaining a Washington license.
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 14:10
  • @phoog thanks, where did you read the actual meaning? Given the quote, it sounds like it's illegal (but most likely inconsequential) even without driving. Jun 16 at 15:12
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    @FranckDernoncourt I'm sure phoog is correct. The quoted RCW section says every Washington resident must obtain a Washington driver's license with 30 days of becoming a resident. Phoog's view — mine as well — is that this is just bad drafting, as it just can't be that the Washington legislature meant that. What the legislature meant was everyone who drives on the public streets in Washington must get a Washington licencse within 30 days of becoming a resident. Jun 16 at 15:35
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    Indeed, as @DavidSupportsMonica suggests, I didn't read it anywhere other than "between the lines" of the quoted statute. Consider the context: this section is from a law providing that "No person may drive a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state without first obtaining a valid driver's license issued to Washington residents under this chapter." Anyone who isn't interested in driving on a public street can ignore the entire law. Also common sense: what purpose would it serve to require non-drivers to get a DL? Why have non-driver IDs at all if non-drivers need a driver's license?
    – phoog
    Jun 16 at 22:11

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