PennDOT to Phase in Newly Designed Driver’s Licenses, ID Cards

Image of the newly designed Pennsylvania driver's licenses via PennDOT.

As part of ongoing security enhancements, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has updated the design and enhanced the security features of its driver’s license and identification card products.

PennDOT entered a new contract with MorphoTrust USA in August 2015 for the design and issuance of Driver’s License (DL) and Identification (ID) cards. Over the last 22 months, PennDOT has worked with MorphoTrust USA on planning, design, and deployment of this major new security enhancement initiative.

This update is unrelated to the REAL ID Act.

“The update is an important component of PennDOT’s ongoing work to enhance and protect the integrity of the driver’s license and identification card issuance process,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards.

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PennDOT began a pilot of the new products beginning on Monday, June 19 at the Riverfront Office Center location in Harrisburg. All Driver and Photo centers will transition to the new products by the end of October 2017. The new products will be phased in over the next four-year renewal cycle and will replace existing products. Both current and new card designs will be in circulation during the transition period.

The new cards are not REAL ID-compliant. System, building infrastructure, and process changes will be necessary for Pennsylvania to issue REAL ID-compliant products. PennDOT anticipates that REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards will be available at the customer’s option in 2019.

The cards look very different, but they also have additional enhanced security features, which improve fraud prevention and protect from counterfeiting and alteration. Some of the enhanced features include:

  • Larger primary portrait and smaller ghost portrait
  • 2D barcode, which contains data from the front of the card unique to the cardholder
  • Laser perforation – the keystone outline with “PA” is embedded into the card stock and can be observed by holding the card up to any light source
  • Laminate – each card is laminated with an optically variable pattern with the state motto, “Virtue, Liberty, Independence,” Keystone outline and “1787,” the year when the U.S. Constitution was ratified by Pennsylvania.

In addition to the above changes, the magnetic strip has been eliminated on the back of the newly designed driver’s license and identification cards.

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