Wisconsin Real ID: What You Need To Know Before Deadline

Wisconsin offers both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards. Here's what you need to know.

Residents in Wisconsin have about a year to get the new IDs. (Scott Anderson, Patch Staff )

MILWAUKEE, WI — Wisconsinites have a little more than a year to get their verified REAL ID driver’s license before new federal air travel rules go into effect. A REAL ID or other identification such as a passport will be required to board an airplane come Oct. 1, 2020.

They are optional and are not needed to drive or vote. But in addition to needing it for a domestic flight, you’ll need the REAL ID to enter a federal building or military installation if you don’t have a passport or military ID card.

What It Means In Wisconsin

  • If it’s time to renew your driver license or ID, you can upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant card for no additional fee (if the upgrade takes place at the same time as your renewal).
  • If your current driver license or ID will not expire before 2020, and you wish to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card, the cost of a duplicate card will apply.
  • Wisconsin offers both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards. The cards look similar; REAL ID-compliant are marked with a star, while non-compliant cards are marked “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.” Should you choose to continue to hold a non-compliant card, you will need another form of identification to board a plane or access federal sites.
  • If you have a valid U.S. passport or another acceptable form of federal identification, you can use that for identification, in place of a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card. View list of Transportation Safety Administration approved documents.

The REAL ID Act was passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. REAL ID driver’s licenses and state identification cards have a gold star in the top right corner to indicate they comply with federal rules.

To obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card in Wisconsin, applicants must present additional documentation when you apply. The document categories include:


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