Why you may need to apply for a new Michigan license, ID card

REAL ID Act passed Congress in 2005

LANSING - If you're planning on flying or need to enter a federal building, you may need to update your Michigan ID.

Michigan residents will have the option beginning next Monday, Aug. 28 of applying for a driver’s license or ID card that will allow them to board flights and enter federal facilities to comply with a federal mandate, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

“Without a card accepted by the federal government, Michigan residents will face the inconvenience and extra expense of having to get a passport or another accepted document to fly or visit federal buildings,” Johnson said. “To avoid future headaches for travelers, we will offer a compliant card for those who want one, and, for those who don’t, we still have the standard card for normal identification purposes.”

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will not allow Michigan residents carrying a driver’s license or ID card that does not comply with the federal REAL ID Act to board domestic flights, or enter federal buildings, nuclear plants or military bases unless they have another accepted identity document.

Compliant cards will be marked with a star inside a gold circle on the upper right. There is no extra fee for a REAL ID-compliant card and compliant cards will not contain Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Michigan residents should check their license or ID card renewal notice when it arrives in the mail for information about whether they already have complied with REAL ID identification requirements. To obtain a compliant card, residents will need to bring a certified birth certificate or another approved document to any Secretary of State office.

Card-holders who do not apply for a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card will receive a standard one with “Not for federal identification” printed on it. These cards still will be valid for driving, identification purposes and buying age-restricted items. 

In addition to the standard and REAL ID-compliant cards, Michigan also issues enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards (pictured at left), which are marked with a U.S. flag, and allow land or sea travel from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean nations.

These cards already are REAL ID-compliant so enhanced card-holders do not need to apply for a compliant card.

The federal REAL ID standards for driver’s licenses and ID cards were created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks based on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. The act sets document and security standards for the production and issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards, including the use of features to prevent illegal copying or altering.

It also helps protect against fraud and misuse by requiring people to verify their identity, residency, Social Security number, and citizenship or legal presence when applying for a license or ID card.

The REAL ID Act passed Congress in 2005 on a bipartisan basis, and the administrations of Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump have worked to enforce it.

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