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Michigan to begin issuing REAL-ID-compliant driver's licenses next week

(WILX)
Published: Aug. 22, 2017 at 8:49 AM EDT
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Changes are coming to Michigan driver's licenses and state identification cards that could affect your travel plans.

Beginning next Monday August 28, residents will have the option to begin applying for a new driver's license or ID card that will allow them to board flights and enter federal facilities. The changes to license and ID cards is part of the Federal REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 in the aftermath of the terror attacks in 2001. It requires states to implement tougher security measures for driver's licenses and ID cards.

The REAL ID act also helps protect against fraud and misuse by requiring people to verify their identity, residency, Social Security number, and citizenship or legal presence when applying for a license or ID card.

Beginning October 1, 2020, all Michigan residents must have a TSA-compliant license to board domestic flights, enter federal buildings, military bases, or nuclear plants unless they have a passport or other accepted identity document. A Michigan Driver's license that has not been updated will not be accepted. Travelers will still be able to fly if they have a passport.

“Without a card accepted by the federal government, Michigan residents will face the inconvenience and extra expense of having to get a passport or another accepted document to fly or visit federal buildings,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “To avoid future headaches for travelers, we will offer a compliant card for those who want one, and, for those who don’t, we still have the standard card for normal identification purposes.”

The new TSA compliant cards will be marked with a star inside a gold circle on the upper right. There is no extra fee to obtain the REAL ID-compliant cards. The Secretary of State says the cards will not contain Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Michigan residents should check their license renewal notice when it arrives in the mail to see if they have already complied with the REAL ID identification requirements. To get a new license or ID card, residents can take a birth certificate to any Secretary of State branch office.

Card-holders who do not apply for a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card will receive a standard one with “Not for federal identification” printed on it. These cards still will be valid for driving, identification purposes and buying age-restricted items.

In addition to the standard and REAL ID-compliant cards, Michigan also issues enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards, which are marked with a U.S. flag, and allow land or sea travel from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean nations. These cards already are REAL ID-compliant so enhanced card-holders do not need to apply for a compliant card.