What You Need to Know About Real ID

Latest Articles

Do you know what REAL ID is, and whether you need to get one? The REAL ID card has been in the works for nearly a decade, and many people already have one. But starting May 3, 2023, you may need one in order to board a flight or enter a secure United States federal building. Here’s everything you need to know about this form of identification, whether you need to get one, and how.

What is the REAL ID Act?

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 in the aftermath of 9/11. The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The purpose of the Act was to establish minimum security standards for driver’s licenses or identification cards issued by the states. Federal agencies will be prohibited from accepting non-REAL ID compliant identification for certain purposes, such as boarding federally regulated aircraft or accessing certain federal facilities.

As of March 26, 2021, 55 U.S. states and territories were in compliance with the REAL ID Act. All states will be issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards that comply with the Act’s requirements by the upcoming enforcement date.

When is REAL ID Required to Fly?

The enforcement date for REAL ID will be May 3, 2023. What that means is that federal agencies will only accept REAL ID to grant access to federal facilities. For most people, the “federal facilities” of most interest are TSA airport security checkpoints. However, the cards will also be needed to enter federal courthouses, nuclear power plants, and military bases. An ordinary driver’s license will no longer be accepted for identification at those facilities.

How to Get REAL ID in Michigan

In Michigan, the Secretary of State website can tell you what documents you need to provide in order to be issued a REAL ID. Those documents will include, at a minimum, proof of:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Two pieces of documentation of your principal residence address
  • Legal presence in the U.S. (such as a birth certificate or valid unexpired passport)
  • Legal name change, if your legal name is different from the name on your birth certificate

If you convert to a REAL ID at the time you renew or replace your driver’s license or state identification card, there is no charge. Otherwise, you can expect to pay a correction fee of $9.00 for a driver’s license and $10.00 for an identification card.

What if I Don’t Have a Social Security Card?

You can present other proof of your Social Security Number, such as a W-2 form, a 1099 form, or a pay stub from your employer that has your SSN on it.

How Can I Tell If My Driver’s License is a REAL ID?

REAL ID-compliant identification cards and driver’s license will usually have a star in the upper right-hand corner. However, if you have an “enhanced” license or ID, even if it doesn’t have the star, it is compliant with the REAL ID Act. If your driver’s license is marked “Not for Federal Identification,” it is not a REAL ID.

Can I Fly Without a REAL ID card?

Not everybody needs a REAL ID. If you don’t fly domestically, visit military bases or secure federal facilities, it’s unlikely that you will need to go to the trouble of converting your existing identification before the enforcement date. You can just update your ID when you renew your license or identification card.

Even if you do fly domestically, you can get by without a REAL ID. You will need to present your U.S. passport (or passport card) at the airport TSA checkpoint.

Can I Use My Real ID for International Travel?

You will still need a U.S. passport for international travel. That includes crossing into Canada or Mexico. REAL ID is also not acceptable for cruises or sea travel. In other words, even if you have a REAL ID, you still need to have a passport if you plan to travel internationally.

My Child is Too Young to Drive. Do I Need to Get Them a REAL ID?

If your child under 18 is traveling domestically with an adult companion, TSA does not require them to have a REAL ID. However, the companion will need to have proper identification.

When Should I Get a REAL ID?

If you regularly fly domestically, or have work that requires you to routinely visit secure federal facilities, you should consider making sure you have a REAL ID as soon as possible. As the enforcement date approaches, the number of people seeking REAL ID will increase and processing times may be longer.

If you have more questions about REAL ID and what it means for you, please contact Estate Planning & Elder Law Services.

Related Articles