I Have No Photo ID: What Can I Use Instead?

No photo ID: what can I use instead?
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State-issued photo ID is the standard identification method in the United States. A document with a photograph is necessary for numerous operations, from opening a bank account and submitting official papers to entering a bar or a casino.

But what if you don’t have a photo ID? Can you prove your identity with a different document? And if so, what other documents can you use?

Stay with us a little longer to get the answers to your questions—and more. Read our handy guide or jump to the section of your choice:

Is a photo ID always necessary?

The short answer is: In most cases, yes.

Photo identity documents help verify your identity in a way that no other ID can—after all, a document with a photograph can easily prove that you’re the holder of a passport, driving license, or any other ID in question.

In most cases, there is simply no other document that can successfully fulfill the function of a photo ID. Whether you use a credit card with your name, birth certificate, or Social Security number, there is one significant drawback—a lack of verification.

In an extraordinary situation where you do not have a government-issued photo identification, presenting other documents to prove your identity may be possible, but it may take work.

How to prove your identity without a photo ID

In some cases, such as applying for a US passport, you must provide primary and secondary identity documents. While primary documents include those with photographs (e.g., passports or driver’s licenses), secondary identification documents (e.g., Social Security cards or health cards) are used for supportive identification.

In some circumstances, you may be permitted to identify yourself using a secondary ID, but you will most likely need a combination of at least two of them. For example, you can use your birth and marriage certificate or a worker’s ID with your birth certificate. However, most administrative institutions or airports will not accept these documents if you want to board a plane.

In other words, if a photo identification is required somewhere, you cannot substitute it with a different document.

Passports or other state-issued photo IDs are often irreplaceable. Get yours with a compliant picture that will get approved by the authorities. Use Passport Photo Online and apply for your photo ID today!

Getting a passport photo with Passport Photo Online.

Where can I get a photo ID?

For many, the default photo ID is a valid driving license. It is indeed one of the most famous documents in use due to its functionality—you need to get it to drive a vehicle, and it also is a photo ID. 

There are, however, many substitutes for a driver’s license that are also considered a state-issued photo ID. Some are more difficult to get, such as the Military Identification Card, but others are accessible to every US citizen, with no need to pass any exams prior.

The most common US photo IDs you can get are:

  • State identification cards (also known as non-driver ID cards)
  • Passport books
  • Passport cards

You can get a US driving license or a state ID at the Department of Motor Vehicles by setting up an appointment at your local DMV and providing the application form and your recent 2×2-inch photo. Getting a US state ID is good for your time and money—you’ll pay no more than $10, and your card should be ready within 3–4 weeks from the appointment.

You can also get your photo IDs at your local post office. However, this process is more expensive and will last about 6–8 weeks. If you want to get your first passport, check out how to apply for a US adult passport.

Need a photo ID immediately? In this case, your options include applying for an emergency passport—see how you can receive one in NYC.

Take a perfect 2x2 photo with Passport Photo Online.


What can be used if you don’t have a photo ID?

You can use secondary IDs, such as birth certificates, voter registration cards, or employee work IDs. However, you must submit at least two of them and sometimes more than that may be needed for the authorities to confirm your identity.

What is the easiest photo ID to get?

The most accessible photo ID is a government-issued photo ID (a non-driver ID card). You can obtain it by booking an appointment at your local DMV or a post office and bringing the application form and your recent 2×2-inch photo.

Can I get a photo ID at the post office?

You can apply for a photo ID through the post office. That way, you’ll receive a state ID card or your passport within 6–8 weeks.

Where can I get a photo ID besides the DMV?

You can get your photo ID at post offices as well. However, bear in mind that applying for photo IDs at the post office will cost more, and it will take more time to receive your ID.

What is a non-photo ID?

A non-photo ID is a document that can help support your identity. However, in most cases, these documents cannot replace a photo ID.

No photo ID—key takeaways

While the US Department of State provides a list of secondary IDs you can use, it’s not always enough to confirm your identity. A photo ID is crucial for the authorities to ensure you are the document holder.

Whether you still have some spare time or need a photo ID immediately, take your compliant 2×2 photo with Passport Photo Online. Thanks to our professional online photo tools, you can experience the utmost convenience without leaving your home.


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