Airport and transportation authorities urged Californians on Thursday to head to DMV offices and apply for the Real ID before enforcement of the new identification requirement begins in October.
Millions have yet to apply for new identification, which will be required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for air travel within the United States starting Oct. 1.
In an effort to curb excessive wait times, the DMV has hired 300 new employees, added Saturday service and early office hours in some locations and expanded registration services, California State Transportation Agency Secretary David Kim said.
But officials say Californians need to apply now to make sure they have the card in time for the deadline.
“Now is the time to get a Real ID," Kim said at a news conference Thursday. “This is one instance where you will not want to wait.”
The DMV would have to issue at least 1.1 million Real IDs every month until October to meet the Oct. 1 date, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
More passengers are screened at Los Angeles International Airport than any other airport in the country and most passengers — about 71% — travel domestically, according to Justin Erbacci of Los Angeles World Airports. This means that most of the airport's travelers would be asked to present a Real ID or passport starting Oct. 1.
“Our fear is that people will wait until the last minute or simply not know of this change, and come October, they will not have the identification they need to fly and they will not be able to get on their planes," Erbacci said. “Unless Californians take steps now… they will not be able to clear the security screening process.”
Officials said residents don't need to get an appointment at a DMV office to apply. They can fill an online application and bring the required documents to a DMV location.
Applicants need to bring documents that serve as proofs of identity like a valid passport, birth certificate, green card or employment authorization, as well as a document showing their social security number and proof of residency, such as bills and employment or medical documents. A full list can be found here.
L.A. Times writer Christopher Reynolds reported about having to make three trips to the downtown L.A. DMV office to get his daughter's learner’s permit because of long lines and computer crashes.
And Times columnist Steve Lopez described a "hellish experience" getting his Real ID at the Glendale DMV office, saying he couldn't make an appointment online and after following the DMV's recommendation and going without an appointment, he endured a long line only to be told he didn't have the required documents.