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Know the Law – Michigan Driver’s Licenses Changes

Posted at 9:00 AM, Sep 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 14:19:40-04

If you’re a frequent flier or visit federal buildings on a regular basis, take note: beginning Oct. 1, 2020, you will need a “REAL ID” compliant driver’s license to board domestic flights or enter a federal facility, including military bases.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The federal law established security standards for issuing driver’s licenses, to help protect against the misuse of a person’s identity.

When receive your Michigan driver’s license renewal notice, it will tell you whether you’re REAL ID compliant. If you are not compliant and want a REAL ID compliant license (it’s optional), then you must visit a Michigan Secretary of State office – you cannot get a REAL ID compliant license by mail or via the Internet.

Be sure to take your U.S. birth certificate with a raised seal (no copies allowed) when you go to get your REAL ID compliant license. If you’re a married woman or a person with a different name from what’s on your birth certificate, you must present a valid marriage certificate, marriage license or court papers showing the name change.

Also, you don’t have to wait until you receive your license renewal notice to get a REAL ID compliant driver’s license. The Secretary of State began issuing them on August 28, 2017. REAL ID licenses are marked with a gold circle and star in the top right corner. Take note: if you have a Michigan “enhanced” driver’s license (with the American flag on it), then you are already REAL ID compliant.

If you decide to not get a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, you will be issued a standard Michigan license that says “NOT FOR FEDERAL IDENTIFICATION.” However, if there comes a time when you need to board a flight or enter a federal building, you will need to present a valid passport.