Get a certified copy of your birth certificate, and perhaps even your marriage license. You will need them to get an updated drivers’ license or state identification card in Michigan and a number of other states. The new license or card will enable the bearer to use it for commercial airline travel and for entering federal facilities and military bases.

 

Above is a REAL ID compliant state driver's license. The American flag symbolizes its enhanced status.

A law that was passed in 2005 requires that driver’s licenses and state ID cards must comply with the REAL ID standards, which set stricter requirements for the sorts of identification required. Implementation of the law starts this year. Michigan and several other states were granted an extension until October 1, 2020. Michigan has just begun issuing enhanced licenses and ID cards.

For those passengers who do not have the appropriate enhanced ID, here are some options:

U.S. passport
U.S. passport card
DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
Permanent resident card
Border crossing card
DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
HSPD-12 PIV card
Foreign government-issued passport
Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
Transportation worker identification credential
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

ID requirements at airports, and federal and military checkpoints will change beginning Jan. 22, 2018. 

The law applies to all persons aged 18 years and older. They must present either a REAL ID-compliant license, ID, or a passport to board a plane or enter a federal building where an ID is required.

Above is a REAL ID compliant state driver's license. The gold star symbolizes its compliant status.

In order to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or card in the states that issue them will require an in-person trip to a Secretary of State or Department of Motor Vehicles to present a certified copy of a birth certificate. Persons born outside the United States will need to present equivalent documentation of birth or citizenship, such as a U.S. consulate birth record, their nationalization papers, or visa documents. To document a name change, married women and others with a name distinct from their birth certificate must present a certified marriage license or court papers showing the name change. Photocopies are not acceptable. They must bear an official copy with a raised seal or embossed stamp. In most places, there is no cost to convert to a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card, which can be accomplished upon license renewal. However, they cannot be converted via mail or the Internet.

For those card-holders who do not apply for a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card, Michigan, for instance, will issue a standard one with the notice "Not for federal identification" printed on it. These cards still will be valid for driving, identification purposes, and buying age-restricted items.

In a statement released last year, the Department of Homeland Security quoted a conclusion made by the 9/11 Commission, which set standards for “sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”  The Commission recognized that “[s]ources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists.” 

At present, 23 states are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act, and the Department has used its authority to grant states extensions when they demonstrate steps toward compliance.  Thus, 27 states and territories have been granted extensions for a period of time to become compliant.  Six states and territories – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa – are noncompliant and do not currently have extensions.

Important dates:

Starting January 22, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.  To check whether your state is compliant or has an extension, click here.  Passengers with driver’s licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver’s licenses or identification cards.

Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.
 

 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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