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What to Know Before You Go - DMV Basics

Effective May 1, 2014, the District of Columbia will begin issuing a REAL ID Credential and a Limited Purpose Credential.

The REAL ID credential requires a one-time revalidation of source documents when obtaining, renewing or requesting a duplicate (including a change of address) DC driver license or identification card. This validation will enable the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure your identity and issue a federally compliant REAL ID driver license or identification card. The new requirements will affect what you will need to bring to the DC DMV office when obtaining, renewing or requesting a duplicate credential. First time DC applicants and existing DC driver license and identification card holders should expect to provide source documents as proof of identity (full legal name and date of birth), social security number, lawful presence in the United States, and current residence in the District of Columbia.  The REAL ID credential has a star in the upper right hand corner.  For more information about REAL ID, please review our FAQs.

The Limited Purpose credential also requires a one-time validation of source documents when applying for your DC Limited Purpose driver license or identification card. The driver knowledge and road tests will be required for all applicants applying for the Limited Purpose driver license.  First time DC applicants must be a resident of the District of Columbia for at least 6 months. Applicants must have never been issued a social security number, previously been issued a social security number but no longer eligible, or not be eligible for a social security number. The Limited Purpose credential may not be used for official federal purposes, and it will be marked to reflect this requirement. You must schedule an appointment to obtain either Limited Purpose driver license or identification card. Prior to your DMV appointment, if you are applying for a driver license, be sure to study and review the Driver Manual in preparation for the knowledge test.  If you fail the knowledge test, you will be required to make another appointment.  For more information about our Limited Purpose credential, please review our FAQs.

DC DMV has more than 40 online services that are available to customers. If your transaction requires an in-person visit, know what documents you need before you go.  

Note: If visiting one of our service locations to conduct business on behalf of someone else, in addition to the necessary documents required for the type of service being requested, the following documents are also required:

  • A legible copy of the state issued driver license or identification card for the individual needing the service
  • A letter of authorization giving you permission to conduct business on behalf of the individual needing the service (Note:  All applications should be completed and signed by the individual needing the service.)
  • Your valid state issued identification card, driver license or  valid passport

Documents You Need and Documents We Accept

NOTE:  For Limited Purpose credentials, the proof of identity, proof of residency and proof of social security number documents are different from the links above.  Therefore, please refer to the limited purpose driver license and limited purpose identification card webpages.


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