California Department of Justice Issues Consumer Alert on the Use of “Federal Limits Apply” Driver Licenses and IDs to Purchase Firearms

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California Department of Justice issued a consumer alert to Californians and a notice to firearms dealers regarding identification requirements for the purchase of firearms in California. Recent changes to California driver licenses and identification cards may result in firearms dealers requiring that holders of a driver license or identification card with the words “Federal Limits Apply” on it provide documentary proof that they are lawfully present in the United States in order to purchase a firearm. This is because federal law prohibits anyone who is not lawfully present in the United States from receiving or possessing a firearm or ammunition. 

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) currently issues two types of California driver licenses and identification cards: “REAL ID” and “Federal Limits Apply.” Applicants for a “Federal Limits Apply” driver license or identification card are not necessarily required to provide proof of lawful presence to DMV, unlike “REAL ID” applicants.

In today’s consumer alert, the California Department of Justice informs consumers that firearms dealers may wish to consider requiring individuals with a "Federal Limits Apply" driver license or identification card to present proof of lawful presence. This may include one of the following documents:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card
  • Certified copy of U.S. birth certificate
  • U.S. Certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen
  • Valid, unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. immigrant visa and approved Record of Arrival/Departure (I-94) form
  • Certified copy of birth certificate from a U.S. Territory
  • Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card

Consumers should check with the dealer from whom they plan to purchase a firearm to verify the dealer’s identification requirements. Alternatively, consumers can obtain a REAL ID driver license or identification card, which would provide sufficient proof of lawful presence in the United States.   

A copy of the consumer alert can be found here

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