Dire warnings of interrupted domestic travel and worse are swirling on social media as deadlines approach for a law aimed at beefing up national security through more strict identification document standards.

California faces a deadline to be compliant with the REAL ID act later this year – a deadline the state is expected to meet well ahead of time – but the cards won't be required for boarding flights or entering high-risk security areas until Oct. 1, 2020.

Starting Jan. 22, California residents can apply to the DMV for a REAL ID card, said DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez. Application for the card requires an in-person visit with documents in hand to prove identity, social security number, California residency and, if they apply, name-change documents such as court decree or marriage license.

The REAL ID is optional, and not everyone with a driver license will be able to meet the requirements, but Californians who plan to fly to other states would be well-served in getting one, Gonzalez said.

The Transportation Safety Administration also will accept other documents, such as a passport or military ID to board domestic flights.

Issuing more than 26 million ID cards is a big job, and although there is plenty of time, education on the REAL ID requirements is a big focus for the DMV. A recent DMV survey indicated that 65 percent of the population was unaware of the REAL ID requirements.

For those whose licenses are set to expire before Oct. 1, 2020, Gonzalez suggested waiting until time to renew, and making an appointment to come in

Those whose licenses are current with a clean driving record will not be required to retake the knowledge or skills tests to be issued a REAL ID.