The need for a REAL ID to fly outside Michigan

Guest column

It’s been a great summer for travel in Michigan and around the U.S. That’s why we’re getting the word out about REAL ID to all air travelers who fly inside the United States.

It’s my last year as your Secretary of State and implementing this federal mandate is a top priority of my administration. I want you and your family to have everything you need to know about REAL ID.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will start requiring Michigan residents to show a REAL-ID compliant document when boarding domestic flights. If you don’t have a valid U.S. passport or enhanced driver’s license or state ID card, then you will not be able to board a domestic flight unless you have a REAL ID-compliant license.

The good news is you may already have an acceptable REAL ID document, such as a valid U.S. passport, a passport card, an enhanced driver’s license or a U.S. military ID.

Your driver’s license or state ID card is REAL ID compliant if it has a star circled in gold printed in the upper right corner of the card, or if you have an enhanced driver’s license or state ID card that has a small American Flag printed on it. When you get your renewal notice in the mail, it will state whether or not your license or state ID is REAL ID compliant.

You can get REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or state ID cards through the Secretary of State’s office at no extra cost from our regular fees.

We at the Michigan Secretary of State’s office are happy to make the process of getting a REAL ID-compliant license as simple as possible.

If you think a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card is right for you, go to one of our branches with your current license or state ID card and an official copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal or stamp (no photocopies).

If your name is different from what’s on your birth certificate, you’ll need to bring in certified name-change document(s), such as your marriage license or court order. Multiple documents may be needed if your name has changed more than once.

Alternately, if you bring a current, valid U.S. passport and the name on your passport matches the name on your driver’s license or state ID card, then you do not need to bring your birth certificate or name change documents. For more information, go online to or

Congress first enacted REAL ID more than a decade ago in response to 9/11. This is a federal mandate that each state must carry out.

REAL ID sets document and security protocols for the production of driver’s licenses and state ID cards, including the use of features to prevent illegal copying or altering.

Remember ,starting Oct. 1, 2020, you will not be able to board a domestic flight without a REAL ID-compliant document. Having a REAL ID-compliant license simplifies domestic air travel.