A state-issued identification card is an excellent, well-accepted photo ID card. Anyone who needs a government-issued photo identification card should not be deterred from applying for a non-driver ID just because she doesn't have a certified birth certificate.
While all states require that an applicant produce proof of identification and some require proof of citizenship or legal presence in the country, most states provide a long list of possible documents that can fulfill these categories.
Why Get a Non-Driver's ID?
A state-issued identification card is a universally accepted proof of identity and age for those who aren't old enough to have a driver's license or just haven't gotten one. It's hard to maneuver the modern world without some form of photo ID. A person needs to verify his identity, address and age in many different situations including boarding a plane, getting an apartment, obtaining a library card and setting up bank accounts.
Perhaps the most common government-issued photo ID is a state driver's license, which isn't surprising considering the important role cars play in the United States. But a state-issued photo identification card is just as good as a driver's license in every way other than authorizing driving. It shows a name, address, birth date and photo, which will take care of most ordinary situations.
How to Prove Your Identity?
Every state in the union requires proof of identity before they will provide a person with a photo ID card, which makes sense. To be less than rigorous about this would encourage identity fraud. But states don't make it so difficult that regular people are unable to get an ID card.
Every state also allows a wide range of documents to prove identity, which means that the lack of one document won't disqualify anyone. To apply for a federally accepted REAL ID card, an applicant must provide proof of identity, a Social Security number and residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID document options.
Read More: How to Prove Your Identity
Proving Identity in Washington State
For example, if a person wants a state ID card in Washington State, she has choices. Some identity documents are termed "stand-alone." These are the top-notch choices and one alone will be enough. They include:
- A valid U.S. passport or passport card.
- A valid (or expired one year ago or less) U.S. state-issued driver license, ID card or photo instruction permit.
- A verification ID letter from the DSH Children's Administration for foster youth.
- A refugee verification packet.
- A currently valid U.S. armed services ID card.
- A currently valid U.S. B1/B2 visa border crossing card.
- A valid U.S. certificate of citizenship or naturalization.
- A valid U.S. citizenship and immigration service ID.
Many other types of documents are on the "A List" and "B list" including expired identification forms and ID cards from other countries. An adult can show two A-list documents, one A-list and two B-list or four B-list documents to prove his identity.
How to Prove Citizenship?
In some states, like Washington and California, an applicant for a photo ID doesn't need to prove citizenship, but only identity, residence and present a Social Security number if he has one. In other states, like Illinois, an applicant needs a Social Security number to apply.
In Texas, the applicant must prove U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country. A birth certificate is one way of establishing this but there are others, including a U.S. passport or passport book or permanent resident card. They also accept many other documents such as:
- A U.S. citizenship certificate or certificate of naturalization.
- A U.S. citizen identification card.
- A U.S. Department of State Certificate of Birth Abroad, issued to U.S. citizens born abroad.
- A permanent resident card.
- A passport or I-94 stamped “Approved I-551” or “Processed for I-551.”
- An employment authorization card.
- A U.S. travel document.
- Form I-94 stamped “Sec. 208 Asylee” or “Sec. 207 Refugee.”
- A machine readable immigrant visa with temporary I-551 language and ADIT stamp.
- A temporary I-551 stamp on a foreign passport.
- A DS-2019 exchange visitor certificate.
- Form I-20, a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant_ Studen_t Status.
- Student documents with student exchange and visitor information system numbers.
- Non-student documents with an alien number or I-94 number.
- New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: Acceptable Documents
- TX DMV: Acceptable Documents
- Texas Department of Public Safety: U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Presence Requirement
- Washington State Licensing: Proof of ID
- State of California DMV: Driver License (DL) and Identification (ID) Card Information
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.