How Do You Get a Valid Pennsylvania ID?

With the new voter ID law in effect for November's general election, here's all you need to know about getting the proper ID needed to vote.

Starting with the November General Election, Pennsylvania law will require voters to show an acceptable photo ID to vote at the polls.

All identification used for voting must have an expiration date and be current, except for Pennsylvania driver's licenses or non-driver photo identification, which are valid for voting purposes one year past their expiration.

for voting can get one for free at any Pennsylvania Department of Transportation driver license center. What you need to do depends on whether or not you previously had a PennDOT-issued driver's license or ID.

Here is everything you need to know if you're planning to cast your ballot this fall.

Acceptable IDs include:

  • A Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT photo ID card (valid for voting 12 months past expiration date).
  • U.S. passport.
  • U.S. military ID (active duty and retired military IDs may designate an expiration date that is indefinite). Military dependents’ IDs must contain a current expiration date.
  • Employee photo identification issued by the federal government, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania county or Pennsylvania municipal government.
  • Photo identification issued by an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning.
  • Photo identification issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences and personal care homes.
  • If you have a religious objection to being photographed, acceptable IDs include the following: Pennsylvania valid without-photo driver’s license or PennDOT valid without-photo identification card.

Voters Who Had a Previous PennDOT License or ID

If you are a registered voter who previously had a PA driver's license or PennDOT photo ID card that has been expired more than one year:

  • Visit a PennDOT driver’s license center with a completed application for Initial Photo Identification Card (Form DL-54A). There is no need to bring any supporting documentation since identity and residency were previously validated by PennDOT.
  • You should provide your current address on the application. Obtain and sign an affirmation form, affirming that you do not have another acceptable form of ID for voting purposes. The form is available on PennDOT’s website or at a driver’s license center.
  • If you still have your expired Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT photo identification card, bring it along to the driver’s license center. However, if you no longer have it, PennDOT will be able to determine if you have an expired product. 
  • If you have a Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT photo identification card that expired prior to 1990, you should call PennDOT’s customer call center at 1-800-932-4600 to verify whether your record is still in PennDOT’s system.

Voters Who Never Had a PA Driver's License or ID Card

If you have never had a Pennsylvania-issued ID and don't have an acceptable alternative ID, here's what you do:

  • Visit a PennDOT Driver’s License Center with a completed application for Initial Photo Identification Card (Form DL-54A).
  • Bring a Social Security card and either a certificate of U.S. citizenship, certificate of naturalization or birth certificate with a raised seal.
  • Bring two proofs of residency, such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records.

Students, Homeless, Others

  • For students at least 18 years of age, accepted proofs of residency include the room assignment paperwork (considered a lease) and one bill with their dorm room address on it. Bank statements, paystubs and credit card bills are all acceptable.
  • Other individuals who may not have any bills, leases or mortgage documents in their name may bring the person with whom they are living along with that person’s driver’s license or photo ID to a driver’s license center as one proof of residence plus at least one more piece of official mail with their name and address.

  • Homeless individuals can use the address of a shelter as their residence provided they visit a driver’s license center with an employee from the shelter that has an employee photo identification issued by the shelter and a letter on the shelter’s letterhead indicating that the homeless individual stays at the shelter. 

To find the driver license center nearest you or get more information on the voter ID law, visit www.VotesPA.com or call 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).

Roxborough Area Man July 19, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The sign-in books? Local polling places? Voter fraud, btw, is hardly a Democrat-only issue...oh wait, Bush WON against Gore, sorry...my bad. It's hard to remember what REAL voter fraud is, when majority doesn't rule... Let's be honest - these restrictions are in place to suppress poor and minority voting far more than to secure the democratic process.
Karey Bacon July 19, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Other countries have same-day registration at the polls. And also make it a holiday, so you have the whole day off work in order to vote.
Chris Dyer July 19, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Show me how minority voting is being suppressed by simply providing ID? Minorities arent able to get any kind of state ID? You dont really expect anyone to believe that in 2012 do you?
Roxborough Area Man July 19, 2012 at 03:31 PM
It is far, far more difficult for the poor (statistically more likely to be a minority) to get an ID. It's just logistically more difficult - try living by bus for a few weeks, for everything. Try doing it on $20,000 a year. Try doing it without a partner. Try doing it with two jobs. Of course I expect people to believe it...it is the truth.
Jim Salvas July 19, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Chris - Your comment, after I and other provided specific examples of how it is harder for minority or low-income voters to obtain photo ID suggests to me that you are not interested in being shown evidence. There is also evidence from other states which have instituted photo ID laws that these laws DECREASE voter turnout by more than 1% among QUALIFIED, legal voters. However, you'll have to go look that up yourself, because you've shown it's not worth giving you evidence.
Chris Dyer July 19, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Jim, what you've shown me was that it was work to go get ID living without a vehicle. Not impossible & not really expensive. I guess maybe you'd like some govt agency to come door to door and hand you an ID. This sort of mentality that you are derserving of somethign without having to earn it or work hard for it is the same mentality that is dragging this country down. Yes you have to work for some things in life. Once you stop depending on others maybe you will grasp the concept of self dependence
Roxborough Area Man July 19, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I suggest you TRY it yourself and see just how difficult the life of the poor and disadvantaged really is. It's not just that it is harder...it is that it is so much harder. Fairness and equal access are key tenets of our society - this voter ID bill violates BOTH of those tenets. Making things HARDER is not the direction we need to be taking to ensure everyone has their say....and not just those with the means to easily get our ID's. (BTW - I am no longer poor...my experience being poor comes from childhood and collegiate days, and while not recent it enlightens my understanding of what it is like to be poor)
RS July 19, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Awesome! I'm a legal citizen and I feel no fear about showing ID.... then again, everyone who votes can say the same, right!?
Bob Tigro July 19, 2012 at 04:21 PM
You do need an ID to bear arms
Kathleen Shaver July 19, 2012 at 04:30 PM
In response to Maureen McAnany's post: "If you can't deal with getting it together enough to obtain a valid ID to cast a vote, you don't care enough to vote. There is plenty of time to obtain ID before November? Who are we kidding here?" What is at issue here is not your right to make a judgment as to whether someone cares enough to vote, rather it is the fact that an estimated 18% of registered voters in Philadelphia do not have the required ID and will be prevented from voting if they are unable to obtain all of the documentation necessary to obtain the ID. There are many volunteers helping these folks apply for official birth certificates and social security cards as well as transportation to PennDot centers-- but the fact remains that a percentage of otherwise LEGALLY REGISTERED VOTERS will be prevented from voting because of this law. Whatever your opinion of these people or your ideas of how simple obtaining an ID actually is, the enforcement of this law would make for an inherently unfair election.
A. Friend July 19, 2012 at 04:46 PM
"You do need an ID to bear arms" Now we are getting somewhere. It makes sense to burden a constitutional right to reduce the risk of lots of people getting shot by criminals with guns. Does letting people vote without having a proper ID present a risk of similar magnitude?
Garnet Newton July 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Nationwide do you know how many cases of actual voter fraud that have been prosecuted hat led to conviction a whopping 13! Do you know how.many votes nationwide have been cast in that time 600,000,000. Six hundred MILLION. You have better odds of winning lottery and getting hit by lighting at the exact same time yet EVERY state with. Republican legislature passed some sort of voter id bill. Coincidence. I think not. Voter ID is an. Unpatriotic way of suppressing the vote for the poor which tend to vote Democrat. Its the only explanation based on the numbers. You had a GOP Pennsylvania state rep. Basically let the cat out of he bag and say voter id bill was to "help" Romney.
A. Friend July 19, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Voter fraud isn't a serious problem because, for an individual, the burden of spending your whole day driving from one polling place to another is very unlikely to pay off, since an extra ten votes or so will almost certainly not make a difference in the outcome. That's why in practice there's little very little incentive to commit in-person, small-potato voter fraud.
Kathleen Shaver July 19, 2012 at 04:59 PM
In response to "A Friend"'s comment: "Does letting people vote without having a proper ID present a risk of similar magnitude?" I think that most everyone is in agreement that verifying a voter's ID should be required and that a "proper ID" should be stipulated. The problem is that the law is so stringent that a percentage of people will not be able to obtain the documentation before the election (less than 120 days away). Require ID but don't make the law so strict that voters who are otherwise LEGALLY REGISTERED will be prevented from casting a ballot.
Chris Dyer July 19, 2012 at 05:05 PM
So what you are saying is that you are OK with a little bit of fraud. So when does this number become so large that it is bothersome to you? Because if you can stop voter fraud 1 time, then the law is working
frank dracman July 19, 2012 at 05:19 PM
March 14th was when voter id legislation was signed , that was plenty of time if you need id. If you waited until now you only have less than 120 days.
Jim Salvas July 19, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Not only is voter fraud rarer than someone getting hit by lightning, but this law will not stop the biggest source of this rare occurrence, absentee ballot fraud. The Pennsylvania law specifically exempts absentee voters from having to provide a photo ID. As I've said before, maybe that has something to do with the fact that the majority of absentee voters are registered Republicans. Maybe?? Hey, if you're for proof of voter ID, how come you aren't demanding tighter controls on absentee voting? While I"m at it: if you're for more qualified voters voting, how come you haven't demanded a single law to make voting easier for qualified voters?
Brendan Kelly July 19, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Funny, our legislators spend more time worrying about voter fraud instead of the real issue, Banking fraud. We have JP morgan and this LIBOR scandal and no politician wants to do anything about it. We are being fleeced by the banks and politicians want to distract us with voter ID laws. And we pay them for this, and pay for their health insurance. what an unfunny joke.
Chris Dyer July 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM
First of all Earnst, it should be "no" idea instead of know idea. Beyond that - last time I looked at a SEPTA schedule it pretty much runs all day & night. So to say you cant find the time to get to the DMV for ID is a joke. Its an excuse & you seem to be full of them
Nathan July 19, 2012 at 07:56 PM
So not all constitutionally protected rights are equal?
frank dracman July 19, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Come on Earnest before id laws if you drove to polling place is that considered a poll tax as well?
Cathy Binder July 19, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Earnest, you are talking to people who do not want to believe you, regardless of facts. I bet the last time their car was in the shop they didn't take the bus to work did they? Unless you have lived the life you really don't get it. I like you understand the plight and get accused daily of being a bleeding liberal because I have seen how hard it is. The bottom line for me is that this is a poll tax, a blatant violation of the Constitution. If you want ID fine. But, what we use for ID must be broader than what they want. My picture ID at work does not have an expiration date on it. I work with many who don't drive, who realize that this ID won't work. And as you said getting to the DMV is not easy. Getting a birth certificate, not cheap and what if you were not born in PA, or worse yet, not born in a hospital. God forbid you were born in the south in the backwoods rural counties. Having worked a job once where I helped people seek documents to establish their date of birth, I will tell you 120 days is not even close to what it may take to seek documents, or get a legal determination made of a date of birth.
frank dracman July 19, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Cathy IF you are talking about me i take the bus and el to work everyday , i do know the inconvenience of public transportation. Voter id was passed into legislation March 14 so if you waited until now you probably do not have enough time but if it meant something to a person with no ID they would have started the process a while ago. About how many people did you help with this process of obtaining birth certificates ?
Roxborough Area Man July 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Chris, TRY living your life via SEPTA...give it a go. It will add so many hours to your day simply commuting via SEPTA that you will begin to just not do what isn't 100% required. Yes, it runs all the time. But for me, living right off Ridge Avenue, to get to my job downtown via SEPTA, takes over one hour. By my automobile? 15 minutes. That's just one place, work...now add groceries, Dr. or other appts., getting to the post office, kids with school...a working poor parent can literally spend tens of hours per week on SEPTA. Like I said, give it a try for ONE WEEK and you will give your automobile a big ol' sloppy kiss on day 8. This legislation is a barely-masked attempt to restrict the voting power of the poor.
jimastorinia July 19, 2012 at 10:38 PM
The republicans are hoping everyone just says not worth it.
Adrian Seltzer July 20, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Many people who are commenting do not realize that many people have ID, it just isn't the proper id to vote in PA. If you just moved here, but live in the city and don't have a car now you may have a driver's license from another state. If you got married and the name on your license doesn't match the name on your voter registration, you have ID, just not the proper ID. If you stopped driving, got divorced, remarried, you need a birth certificate and the marriage and divorce certificates to get ID. All the PA DMV offices do not do photo ID's making it even more inconvenient for someone to get ID.
Kathleen Shaver July 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Yep, and that's why we are going to fight back! Talk to friends, especially young and elderly voters. Make sure that they understand the new voter ID law and what to do if they don't have valid photo ID. There's a lot of confusion... so we have to work to educate all voters. Volunteer with an organization and help to fight back against this unfair law and voter disenfranchisement in Pennsylvania. The Committee of Seventy is one such organization that you can volunteer with: 215-848-1283 http://www.seventy.org/Elections_Voter_ID.aspx
Garnet Newton July 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Thats not the point Any voter fraud can be stamped out WITHOUT Voter ID Disenfranchising up to 1 million PA voters for 13 cases nationwide is nonsensical
SUEZQ August 07, 2012 at 08:40 PM
"Voters who do not have an acceptable form of photo identification for voting can get one for free at any Pennsylvania Department of Transportation driver license center. What you need to do depends on whether or not you previously had a PennDOT-issued driver's license or ID"....looks like the cost = $0.00 There are specific instructions for students, homless, and other individuals who do not have a major bill in their name. It may be a little inconvenient - but let's step up here and be big boys and girls - how much better would you feel with a REAL id in your pocket?
Adrian Seltzer August 24, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I am going to senior centers in the area to educate them about voter ID. If you have questions, click on my name and leave me a question. All the info in this article is not accurate. Student, govt and most military IDs need expiration dates on them and can't be expired. Your name on the license has to match the voter registration roll. Nov is going to be pandemonium.


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