New Michigan driver’s license will be required for domestic air travel

LANSING, Mich. -- The new Michigan REAL ID driver's license or ID card is headed to a Secretary of State office near you. It's mandated by the federal government under the REAL ID Act which was passed back in 2005.

"Next week, Michigan residents can go to any Secretary of State office and apply for a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card," said Fred Woodhams, the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office spokesman.

Woodhams said the new ID will allow you to enter federal buildings, nuclear plants, and board domestic flights. It's a measure designed to tighten security nationwide following the attacks of 9/11.

"Some of the 9/11 hijackers boarded the aircraft using fraudulent identification, so that was the impetus behind this," he explained.

More difficult to fabricate, the REAL ID has a star inside a gold circle in the upper right corner.

Woodhams said people should have plenty of time to comply, since the federal government deadline is October 1, 2020. He said there's no additional cost if you're renewing your ID upon its regular expiration. Otherwise, it costs $9.

You need to have your birth certificate, Woodhams said. "Typically, people can get that from the county in which they were born or the state in which they were born."

He said a US passport or naturalization papers will also do. If you're not a citizen, he said you can show your visa documents.

But not everyone needs to get the new license. If you're among the 10 percent of Michigan residents with the enhanced driver's license, you're already compliant, Woodhams said. The enhanced license has an American flag on it, which will permit you to board aircraft and enter federal facilities.

If your Michigan driver license is up for renewal but you don't want the new ID, you can just get another standard one. "It will have printed on it 'Not for federal identification,' and that will let federal officials know that that is not a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card," Woodhams said.

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3 comments

    • Michigander

      I just renewed mine last month. Not an enhanced license and doesn’t have the star either. And they want me to pay another $9 to get an updated one. Way to suck every little dime they can from the taxpayer. The first one should be free with no exceptions since it’s federally mandated.

  • steve

    The REAL ID Driver’s license or card should also be required of anyone before they can vote. No exceptions. No more signing a paper that says you actually are who you say you are. No more claims that requiring ID discriminates against some. This should have gone into effect years ago.