Which One Do I Need? Standard, Enhanced & REAL ID-Compliant Michigan Licenses & IDs
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Which One Do I Need? Standard, Enhanced & REAL ID-Compliant Michigan Licenses & IDs

Standard or REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards?

Starting on Monday, August 28, 2017, Michigan residents will be able to apply for REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards.


Here’s what you need to know about them:


•  These forms of identification comply with federal regulations and allow a person to board a domestic flight, or enter a federal building, nuclear plant or military base, without having a passport or other accepted document.


•  Beginning on October 1, 2020, standard licenses and IDs – which are not REAL ID-compliant – will not be acceptable for these uses, requiring other documentation.


•  REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs will not cost more than standard licenses and will be marked with a star in the upper right corner.


•  Unlike an enhanced driver’s license (see below for details), REAL ID-compliant licenses and IDs will not contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip.


•  According to the Secretary of State: “Michigan residents should check their license or ID card renewal notice when it arrives in the mail for information about whether they already have complied with REAL ID identification requirements. To obtain a compliant card, residents will need to bring a certified birth certificate or another approved document to any Secretary of State office.”


For more information, see “SOS offices to issue optional REAL ID-compliant licenses, ID cards,” “Michigan to start issuing new IDs that will be accepted on domestic flights,” “Should You Apply for a REAL ID-compliant License or ID When RENEWING?,” and “REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions.”




What about an enhanced driver’s license?

There are still two good reasons to consider getting one of these, instead of a standard or REAL ID-compliant license:


First, an enhanced license contains an RFID chip for more security and faster border crossings. This makes an enhanced license “especially handy for business travel, vacations or quick trips,” according to the Secretary of State.


Second, a Michigan enhanced driver’s license is also already REAL ID-compliant, making it an acceptable form of federal ID ahead of the October 1, 2020, deadline.


For more information, see “REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions for the Public,” “In 2018, a driver’s license may not be enough ID to board a plane” and “Is your state’s driver’s license TSA compliant?”


Here’s some more basic information, including how to obtain your enhanced license:



What is an enhanced driver’s license?

According to the Secretary of State:

The enhanced driver’s license is a cost-effective and convenient document that meets driving, identification and border-crossing needs. It is a federally approved document that allows you to re-enter the U.S. when traveling by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. While not required, the enhanced license is an excellent alternative to a standard license because it is especially handy for business travel, vacations or quick trips.


How does an enhanced license differ from a standard license?

According to the Secretary of State:

All driver’s licenses and state ID cards issued by the Secretary of State employ security features that are industry best practices to prevent the card from being fraudulently copied or used.


Specific features of the enhanced license or ID include:


a. A radio frequency identification (RFID) chip to speed border crossings. The RFID chip does not contain any personally identifying information.

b. A machine-readable zone on the back of the card to serve as a backup if RFID equipment is unavailable.

c. A security sleeve to protect the RFID chip from being read when the card is not being used.

d. An image of a U.S. flag on the front indicating U.S. citizenship.

e. The word “Enhanced” on the front.


Is an enhanced license more expensive?

Not much more. Your first enhanced license would cost $45, with renewals (every four years) costing $38, whereas a standard license costs $25 originally and $18 to renew.



How do I get an enhanced license?

A visit to a Secretary of State office is required to upgrade to an enhanced license – upgrading online or by mail isn’t yet available. You’ll want to bring:


•  Your Social Security card

•  Proof of citizenship (like your birth certificate)

•  Proof of identity and residency (like your current license)


From there it should simply be a matter of getting your picture taken and paying the fee. The enhanced version of your license should arrive by mail in 2-3 weeks.


For much more detailed information, including a very comprehensive and helpful FAQ, visit the Secretary of State page on enhanced driver’s licenses. 


Contact Saginaw Bay Underwriters if we can assist in any way.