How Does Real ID Affect Employee Verification Process?

By April 18, 2019 May 2nd, 2019 HR Blog

By Jennifer Jacobus PHRca, SHRM-CP  SDEA Director of HR Services.

With the REAL ID becoming more of a reality, SDEA has been fielding some questions on how this “new” document applies to employment authorization and the requirements of Form I-9.

For anyone not aware, passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.

While the REAL ID is not mandatory, individuals who want to board a domestic flight starting October 1, 2020; who will have a need to enter secure federal facilities or military bases starting October 1, 2020; or purchase firearms or ammunition, will need a REAL ID driver license or ID card.

Since obtaining the REAL ID requires two forms of documentation, some employers may think that this document might be valid as a List A document for I-9 purposes, this is not the case.

However, the document is still an acceptable List B document for employment verification using Form I-9 if the I-9 requirements for that document have been met. In other words, if the driver’s license is unexpired and it contains the necessary photograph and/or identifying information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, eye color, and address, then the license’s failure to comply with the stricter REAL ID requirements do not invalidate it as a form of identification verification for employment.

Thus, if an employee with a non-REAL ID compliant driver’s license offers the document as a List B document, the license should be examined to determine whether it is reasonably genuine and relates to the employee, then the license should be accepted. Do not refuse the document or ask for an alternative form of identification.

Alternatively, just as before, employees my produce a List A document that establishes both the employee’s identification and eligibility to work in the US, the REAL ID is not a List A document.

For a list of acceptable documents and other resources, please visit our resources page:

For more information or if you have any questions, please call SDEA at 858-505-0024.

Contact us: 858.505.0024