You know who you are and you might like to think that's enough. But it's not, in this complex world we live in. Even in Texas, you can't get very far in life without a government-issued card with your name and a photo to prove your identity. You can go for a driver's license of course, which is great in case you find yourself behind the wheel of a car, but you can also opt for a Texas identification card, issued by the Department of Public Safety and valid for up to six years.
Types of Texas ID
Think you don't need a state-issued photo ID in friendly Texas? Think again. In the Lone Star State, you'll need an official identification card with your photo issued by the state or federal government. You'll need to to check into a hotel or motel, to cash a check, to buy liquor and cigarettes and to board airplanes.
One great and immediately appealing option is a Texas driver's license. It not only establishes identity, it also proves you are of age for various adults-only activities (think liquor, certain movies and cigarettes). Not to mention it's primary job, which is making you a legal driver.
But if you lost your driver's license from Texas, either through carelessness or poor driving, and don't want to replace it, there is another possibility. It's called the Texas identification card and can double for a driver's license in most ways, other than authorizing you to drive of course.
Quickest Way to Get a Texas ID
It's curious that you can spend years thinking you don't need a Texas ID until, suddenly, you need it yesterday. So what's the quickest way to get a Texas ID? It isn't a driver's license since you have to take a knowledge test, drive for a while, then take an on-the-road driving test you may or may not pass. You also have to take a vision test and wait around in line for each of these different experiences.
The quickest type of Texas ID you can get is a Texas ID card. No tests at all. Even if you can't see well and don't know how long it takes a car to stop when it's moving at 50 miles per hour, you can get a Texas ID card if you have a few important documents with you and the fee, currently under $20
How to Get a State ID in Texas
Download the identification card application from the Texas Department of Safety website or pick one up at the driver license office. Fill it out completely, then gather the documentation you will require. That includes evidence proving your identity, your citizenship or legal status in the country, Texas residency and your Social Security Number.
You can use a birth certificate to prove who you are, but you can also use other documents listed on the application. The certificate can also prove you are a citizen however. Bring in your Social Security card to show your SSN, or else bring in a tax form like a 1099 with your SSN and name on it.
After your evidence is accepted, you'll have to provide a thumbprint and have your picture taken. Then you pay the fee and get a temporary receipt. You will get your new card in the mail in a month or so. If you get impatient or anxious about the ID card, the Department has a "mailing status" web page where you can check and see whether it has been mailed.
How long is the identity card valid? Generally it's six years. If you are under 59, it expires six years from your last expiration date. After that, it expires on your sixth birthday after you get the card.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images