How to Get a Valid Photo ID

By Lauren Tyree ; Updated June 20, 2017
Driver license plastic card template

Obtaining a legal and valid government-issued photo identification card is the first step to completing a number of tasks in the United States. Without a driver's license with photo included, a person cannot operate a motor vehicle. Air travel, personal banking, using a library card, and purchasing alcohol and other restricted substances also require some sort of official ID. Passports and military identification are acceptable, as well. Each type of valid photo ID can be obtained at a different location in your community.

Travel to your local Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, office to apply for a driver's license or state ID card. Note that a state ID card will not grant you driving privileges like a license would. After filling out the required paperwork, you will be asked to show a piece of mail from your residence proving that you reside within your state, in addition to a social security card that verifies your identity. Once you have passed the driving tests, paid the required fees, and taken a photo, your license will be issued to you. A state ID requires no testing; it will be issued automatically once all of the paperwork and verification has been completed.

Apply for a passport at your local post office. This document will clear you for international travel in addition to serving as an official photo ID. You will need to provide two passport-sized photos, which can be taken at various locations, including photo centers in Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid. Show your Social Security card along with your completed application, and pay the applicable fee, which you can look up online on the official government passport site. In a few weeks, your new passport will be mailed to your address.

Obtain a Military ID if you are an active servicemember, or the spouse or dependent of one. You can check online to confirm your eligibility and to search for offices in your neighborhood which offer the necessary forms. This card will enable you to receive military benefits in addition to serving as an official form of government-issued photo ID in most cases where one is required.

About the Author

Lauren Tyree started writing professionally in 2010 as a staff writer for Poptimal. She has penned articles and essays since childhood. Tyree earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology at Vassar College and her Master of Arts in communication at Regent University.