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Air travelers could find themselves grounded
when REAL ID goes into effect Oct. 1, 2020
From coast to coast, state to state and town to town, the alarm bells are ringing in anticipation of the fast-approaching deadline for REAL ID, the post-9/11 federal requirement that sets mandatory higher security standards for identification. And if you haven’t been paying attention, it’s time you did.
If you travel by air, REAL ID will impact you.
Oct. 1, 2020 is the date to remember. That’s when REAL ID goes into full effect, and it’s going to matter if you find yourself in a Homeland Security scenario, such as boarding flights within the United States or entering certain federal facilities such as military bases or nuclear power plants. In these situations, your standard, state-issued driver’s license or ID card no longer will be good enough to prove you are who you say you are. Without a REAL ID, you’ll be turned away, which means that cross-country flight you’ve been planning to visit Aunt Louise in Arizona may turn into a long, scenic road trip.
Becoming REAL ID ready ...
The good news is that many people already have a REAL ID document, such as a valid U.S. passport or passport card, a DHS Trusted Traveler Card or an Enhanced Driver’s License. There’s a full list of acceptable REAL ID documents at TSA.gov. The bad news is your standard driver’s license or ID card isn’t on that list, unless you turn it into a REAL ID-compliant document.
Thankfully, becoming REAL ID-ready isn’t complicated. To turn your license or ID card into a REAL ID, simply visit a Secretary of State branch office or make an appointment at Michigan.gov/SOS. You’ll need to bring the required documents to prove your identity (see sidebar), and be aware that if you ever changed your name, you may need additional documentation. When your new license or ID comes in the mail, it will have the REAL ID star in the top right corner.
The big message is don’t delay. As of June 2019, only 37 percent of Michigan licenses and ID cards were REAL ID-compliant, which could mean a last-minute rush at Secretary of State offices when the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline nears. Be ready.
For more information, visit Michigan.gov/RealID.