MENU

WisconsinInformation.org is privately owned and is neither operated by, nor affiliated with, any government agency.

How to Get a Real ID in Wisconsin

You need to obtain a REAL ID in Wisconsin if you wish to board domestic flights or enter certain federal facilities after October 1, 2020. In general, the REAL ID Act was established in order to increase the security features on state-issued identification documents. You can obtain an optional REAL ID driver’s license or ID card by providing certain documentation at your local DMV office. Overall, you may upgrade your credential at any time, regardless of whether or not you are within your renewal period.

Generally, a WI REAL ID card is nearly identical to a standard license or identification card issued by the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The biggest difference between these credentials is that the federally-compliant card has a star printed on its upper righthand corner. IDs that are not upgraded will not include the star. Instead, they will display "Not For Federal Use." As such, it may be in your best interest to upgrade to a REAL ID credential by 2020 in order to board domestic flights within the U.S. and gain access to certain federal facilities.

You need to obtain a REAL ID in Wisconsin if you wish to board domestic flights or enter certain federal facilities after October 1, 2020. In general, the REAL ID Act was established in order to increase the security features on state-issued identification documents. You can obtain an optional REAL ID driver’s license or ID card by providing certain documentation at your local DMV office. Overall, you may upgrade your credential at any time, regardless of whether or not you are within your renewal period.

Generally, a WI REAL ID card is nearly identical to a standard license or identification card issued by the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The biggest difference between these credentials is that the federally-compliant card has a star printed on its upper righthand corner. IDs that are not upgraded will not include the star. Instead, they will display "Not For Federal Use." As such, it may be in your best interest to upgrade to a REAL ID credential by 2020 in order to board domestic flights within the U.S. and gain access to certain federal facilities.

Do you need to get a REAL ID in Wisconsin?

Obtaining a Wisconsin DMV REAL ID drivers license or identification card is optional. As such, you are not required by law to get a federally-compliant license or state ID if you do not wish to do so. You still have the option to apply for a standard state-issued credential for most identification purposes. However, it is important to understand when a compliant credential will be necessary, so that you know whether or not to upgrade your documents. The instances in which a federal ID card is necessary include the following:

  • Boarding domestic U.S. flights
  • Entering military bases
  • Entering nuclear power plants
  • Accessing certain federal facilities and buildings

A few examples of valid identification that can be used instead of a REAL ID card includes the following, but is not limited to:

  • S. passport
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, etc.)
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • Federally-recognized tribal-issued photo ID

If you have any of the credentials listed above, you have the option of using them instead of a REAL ID card in Wisconsin. Because this federally-compliant credential is only needed in specific circumstances, you may not need to obtain one. However, it is essential to get this upgraded card if you do not have other valid forms of identification and intend to board a domestic flight or access certain federal facilities after the October 1, 2020 deadline.

REAL ID Requirements in Wisconsin

There are specific WI REAL ID requirements that you must meet in order to get an enhanced credential. This includes proving your identity, Social Security Number (SSN) and state residency by providing a series of documents. Overall, these REAL ID document requirements must be fulfilled in person at a DMV office. To get the card, you must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of name and date of birth
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Proof of legal status in the U.S.
  • Two proof of residency documents
  • Proof of name change, if applicable

When to Get a Real ID in Wisconsin

You can start the application process for a Wisconsin REAL ID drivers license at any time, as long as you qualify to obtain this credential. One option is to upgrade to a secure ID at the same time that you renew your existing license or identification card. This can be beneficial as it saves you an additional trip to the DMV. Otherwise, you may upgrade your card at any time, even if you are not within your renewal period. However, keep in mind that a duplicate card fee will be charged if you do not upgrade with your renewal.

Because this REAL ID upgrade can happen at any time, you can ensure that you have the proper credential before you travel or visit a government facility. If you do not have the proper credentials starting on October 1, 2020, you will be denied access to board a domestic flight or enter certain federal buildings.

How to Apply for a REAL ID in Wisconsin

There are a few different procedures that you can follow to get your REAL ID card in Wisconsin. If it is time to renew your driver license or ID card, you can upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card for no additional fee. If your current card is not set to expire before the year 2020 and you wish to obtain the new credential, you can upgrade without needing a renewal. However, keep in mind that the cost of a duplicate card will apply.

To obtain a WI REAL ID for flying, you must visit a DMV office in person and present any additional required documentation, as mentioned in the previous section. Those documents include proof of identity, legal status in the United States, Social Security Number (SSN) and residential address in the state.

After you present the required documents to comply with REAL ID law, you must pay the applicable fees. If you upgrade while you renew your license, you are responsible only for the renewal costs. If you upgrade without requesting a renewal, you are responsible for duplicate card fees. Keep in mind that the exact fees may vary. Once the fees have been paid, your license or ID card will be upgraded. Then, your new card will be sent to you in the mail within a few weeks. As such, make sure that you apply with plenty of time before you need the credential so that you do not face any issues if your card does not arrive within the specified time frame.