What is the REAL-ID Act?
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, but many US travelers have never heard of it and aren’t aware that very shortly the rules for air travel are going to change. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act has been postponed many times, but the final deadline is October 1, 2020. What this means is that you’ll no longer be able to take a domestic flight with a “regular” driver’s license. Different states have enacted this on different dates, but shortly it is going to affect everyone.
In order to comply, the TSA will be requiring travelers to produce either a passport, enhanced license (available in certain states), or a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. A Michigan REAL ID-compliant driver’s license will have a yellow star in the upper right hand corner (other states may look different, but will still have the star). If you do not have one of these three forms of ID, you’ll be denied boarding for your flight.
If you have a current enhanced driver’s license, you will automatically be compliant without the yellow star. Upon renewal of your license, it will be issued with the yellow star without any interaction on your part.
How do you make your ID or driver's license ID REAL-ID compliant?
You’ll need to present in person to a Michigan Secretary of State (or your local DMV) office to apply. You’ll need either your US passport or your certified birth certificate with the raised seal along with your current driver’s license or other accepted form of ID. This can typically be your Social Security card or another form of government issued ID and proof of residency. Please visit michigan.gov/sos or your state DMV site for other options.
If your name has changed from the name that is on your birth certificate, you’ll also need to present certified documents that show the legal name change, such as a marriage certificate or court order. You may need multiple documents to show the legal changes from your birth certificate to your current name. Once the paperwork is processed, your new ID/driver’s license will arrive in the mail as usual.
Even though this won’t be enacted for another year, I highly recommend not procrastinating as the processing times are only going to get longer from this point on. You never know when you might need to take that last minute flight!