Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: October 2, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles: Brandy Brubaker,, (804) 367-6834

Governor Northam Announces Expanded Partnership to Offer REAL IDs to Returning Citizens

More than 28,000 state IDs have been issued to individuals in Virginia correctional facilities through DMV Connect program since 2012

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) will partner to offer REAL ID-compliant identification cards to returning citizens at all DOC facilities in the Commonwealth. DMV Connect mobile operations teams that serve Virginia’s prison populations began providing the expanded services yesterday, October 1, 2019, which marks one year until the federal law goes into effect requiring a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID, or another approved form of identification such as a passport, for domestic travel or access to secure federal facilities.

“A state-issued ID can be the key to finding opportunity after incarceration, from connecting with social services, to opening a bank account, getting a job, securing stable housing, and pursuing an education,” said Governor Northam. “We are fully committed to ensuring returning citizens have access to the support they need to successfully reintegrate into society, and having identification that is REAL ID-compliant will be a valuable tool in reducing recidivism and helping them start out on a positive path upon release.”

“More than 650,000 Virginians have already obtained a REAL ID at their local DMV,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Expanding access to REAL ID for returning citizens is important because it creates an opportunity for them to secure employment and become contributing members of society.”

“I am proud to see DMV and DOC working together to improve upon an already strong partnership,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “For years, returning citizens have been able to leave every Commonwealth of Virginia correctional facility with an ID. Now, thanks to the work of these two agencies, they’ll be able to receive an upgraded REAL ID-compliant credential should they need it.”     

Since 2012, DMV Connect teams have visited every DOC facility to process applications for identification cards for offenders nearing release, issuing more than 28,000 state IDs. The teams use portable equipment that fits inside a suitcase and contains everything they need to process a credential transaction, including taking a new photograph. In addition to serving DOC facilities, DMV Connect also provides service at Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities, as well as federal prisons, sheriff’s offices, and regional jails.

The popularity and ease of the program inspired DMV to integrate additional DMV Connect teams into its overall service model, providing full DMV service at locations where customers frequent such as shopping centers, libraries, retirement communities, military bases, government centers, and more. DMV currently has eight Connect teams stationed in all corners of the Commonwealth.

“This new facet of our partnership with DOC further expands access to REAL ID, supporting DMV’s mission of providing secure credentials and superior service to all Virginians,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. “The genesis of our DMV Connect program was ID card services for offenders, and it’s only fitting that we provide these customers with our most in-demand service, the REAL ID.”

“Soon-to-be-released offenders are grateful to be able to obtain an ID before they return to their communities—it is one less item in a long checklist of tasks they need to accomplish upon their release,” said DOC Director Harold W. Clarke. “We are delighted that they can now get a REAL ID so they’ll have the identification they will need for federal purposes and not experience any added barriers to their second chances.”

The 2005 REAL ID Act established national guidelines for cards accepted as proof of identification for federal purposes. Some Virginia military bases may no longer accept non-REAL ID compliant identification displaying “Federal Limits Apply.”

To learn more about REAL ID, visit

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