Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

REAL ID (effective January 14, 2013)

About REAL ID

  • Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 231) in an effort to strengthen the security, authentication and issuance standards for state driver licenses and ID cards.

What it means for you

  • At some point within the next five years, it is expected that federal agencies will only accept for official federal purposes* a driver license or ID issued in compliance with the REAL ID Act.
  • To assure that Wisconsin driver license and ID holders can continue to use their licenses and IDs for federal official purposes.

*Federal official purposes are defined as:

  • boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft
  • accessing federal facilities that require identification to enter
  • entering nuclear power plants

You decide whether or not you need one Wisconsin offers a choice

  • Wisconsin is issuing both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards.
  • The cards will look similar.
  • The cost for either card is the same.

Which should you choose?

  • At some point within the next five years, it is expected that federal agencies will only accept for official federal purposes* a driver license or ID issued in compliance with the REAL ID Act, so that decision is based on whether you plan to use your driver license or ID card as identification for federal official purposes (see above).
  • If you have a valid U.S. passport or another acceptable form of federal identification, you can use that for identification, rather than a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card. A list of Transportation Safety Administration approved documents is available at: www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/acceptable-ids.
  • If you do not apply for a REAL ID-compliant card and change your mind, you can still apply for one at a later time.

There is no reason to rush out to get a REAL ID-compliant card

    The law is being phased in over several years. Most people will be able to wait until their driver license or ID card is up for renewal before applying for a REAL ID-compliant card.

Wisconsin REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards will look similar

  • They will be made of the same materials; offer the same security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication; contain the same information; and have the same general appearance.
  • The only significant difference is a star verification mark on the front of the card in the upper, right-hand corner of the REAL ID-compliant card.
Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service

Last modified: January 14, 2013

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