It's time to get compliant Wisconsin. That is if you'd like to fly or be allowed in any government buildings next year, but you better have the necessary paperwork before scheduling your appointment.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

Starting May 7th, 2025, having a REAL ID or another acceptable form of identification will be crucial for certain activities, especially if you're planning domestic travel or visiting specific federal facilities. Let's dive into what you need to do in the next twelve months to ensure you're not left grounded or locked out. It's worth noting that all states, the District of Columbia, and our territories are REAL ID compliant and issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and IDs.

First off, why do US Citizens need a REAL ID?

Imagine this scenario: you're gearing up for a domestic vacation or perhaps you have business at a federal building. Without a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or identification card, you might as well be knocking on a locked door. If you're 18 or older and have plans involving domestic flights or visits to certain federal facilities (such as courthouses, prisons, and nuclear power plants), then you'll need a REAL ID to gain entry.

What does a Wisconsin REAL ID look like?

Credit: Department of Homeland Security Example of icons used to show a REAL ID.
Credit: Department of Homeland Security
Example of icons used to show a REAL ID.

Wondering how to tell if your ID is the real deal? Look for a star encased in a cirlce. If your current ID doesn't have this distinctive feature, it's time for an upgrade.

Credit: Wisconsin DMV Sample REAL ID for Wisconsin.
Credit: Wisconsin DMV
Sample REAL ID for Wisconsin.

You mentioned needing "paperwork" above what does that mean?

Let's break it down. How do you obtain one of these shiny new REAL IDs? Head over to your nearest Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. But here's the catch—many places require appointments, so be sure to check ahead. In Wisconsin, appointments can be booked online.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

Before you head in, make sure you have the necessary documents:

  • Something with your full, current legal name (like certified birth certificates or U.S. passports).
  • Another document containing your full Social Security Number (SSC or Draft Card).
  • Two documents proving residency, such as bank statements or utility bills.
  • Something with your signature on it.
  • Plan accordingly, as it can take an additional 30 days to receive your REAL ID in the mail.
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By the way, there's no additional charge for a REAL ID; it's the same cost as your regular driver’s license or ID card issued by Wisconsin's DMVs. If you're feeling overwhelmed, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security have your back with websites full of information to guide you through the process.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

So remember, you have one year left before the REAL ID deadline hits Wisconsin. Don't get caught grounded by your old ID—get your REAL ID ready this year and keep those travel plans soaring!

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