Michigan REAL ID deadline: What you should know about application

Law goes into full effect Oct. 1, 2021

ROMULUS, Mich. – Michigan residents should pay attention to the REAL ID deadline so they won't be prevented from flying within the United States or entering some federal facilities, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and transportation security officials said today.

UPDATE -- March 26, 2020: Michigan REAL ID deadline extended due to coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Benson held a news conference at Detroit Metro Airport with Steve Lorincz, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration, and Darryl Brown, vice president of public safety for the Wayne County Airport Authority, to ensure residents have the facts about REAL ID.


The federal REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and requires higher standards for identification. When the law goes into full effect Oct. 1, 2020, a standard Michigan driver's license or state ID card no longer will be adequate to board an aircraft for a domestic flight or to enter military bases, nuclear power plants or certain other federal facilities.

"If you travel by air, this message is particularly important for you," Benson said. "With the clock ticking until REAL ID goes into effect, we're advising all Michigan residents to be prepared."

Your current ID may be OK

Many people currently have an ID that meets federal REAL ID standards, Benson said, such as a valid U.S. passport, a Trusted Traveler card or an enhanced driver's license. Michigan residents can turn their standard license or state ID card into a REAL ID by visiting any Secretary of State office with the required identity documents.

Participation in the program is voluntary and anyone who doesn't want a REAL ID will be issued a standard license or ID that can't be used for federal identification purposes.

"REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the federal government to greatly improve aviation security," Lorincz said. "We highly recommend that Michigan residents who plan to travel by air upgrade their standard driver's license to a REAL ID before the deadline."

If you have an enhanced driver's license or enhanced state ID card, you already have a REAL ID-compliant card.

Michigan Enhanced Driver's License (Secretary of State's Office)
Michigan Enhanced Driver's License (Secretary of State's Office)

How to upgrade your ID

Upgrading a standard license or state ID to a REAL ID is free if done during the normal renewal period. Otherwise, a card correction fee of $9 for a driver's license or $10 for a state ID is charged. Currently, 41 percent of Michigan driver's licenses and state ID cards are REAL ID-compliant. That number includes enhanced driver's licenses, which are REAL ID-compliant and can be used to cross the border into the United States from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean by land or sea.

When applying for a REAL ID, you will need to bring:

  • Your driver's license or state ID card.
  • Your certified birth certificate, with a raised seal or stamp issued by a governmental agency; your valid, unexpired U.S. passport; or an approved citizenship or legal presence document. (Faxes and photocopies won't be accepted.)
  • If your name differs from what is on your birth certificate, bring certified documents, such as marriage licenses or court orders, for every time your name has changed.

Residents can schedule an appointment to get a REAL ID at any Secretary of State office by visiting Michigan.gov/SOSAppointments.

The Secretary of State's office is partnering with airports and many other organizations throughout Michigan to communicate key information ahead of the deadline. Benson thanked TSA and airport officials for working with her office to make sure Michiganders are ready for REAL ID.

"Customer satisfaction is a top priority at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport," said Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Chad Newton. "We pride ourselves on making the screening process as comfortable and efficient as possible. The more passengers who know about REAL ID – before they reach our checkpoints – the better. As the largest airport in Michigan, we are proud to partner with the Michigan Department of State to provide the education and awareness that will ensure air travelers are REAL ID compliant by Oct. 1, 2020."

More information is available at Michigan.gov/REALID.

About the Authors: