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Get ready to switch to a REAL ID by bringing proper documents

The REAL ID is meant to increase security at airports. It's being issued currently at all Secretary of State's offices in Michigan.

Your driver's license is undergoing changes and it could mean a longer wait at the Secretary of State's office if you’re not prepared.

The REAL ID is meant to increase security at airports. It’s being issued currently at all Secretary of State's offices in Michigan.

At the Plainfield Avenue location in Grand Rapids, Paul Rutowski came prepared. His license is up for renewal later this month, and he read the brochure he got in the mail. It explains the REAL ID.

"It's optional, if you want to do it, it has benefits. Bring your passport if you have one," said Rutowski.

The REAL ID is not required, but Fred Woodhams, Spokesman for the Secretary of State, said you should know why it’s being recommended. You can still get a regular driver’s license.

"For someone who chooses to do that, it's still a valid state ID, good for everything you will do, but it won't be accepted by the federal government on planes or federal facilities," Woodhams said.

Here's what you will need to bring in when it's time to renew your driver's license and switch to a REAL ID: A U.S. passport is the easiest, if you have one. If not, you will need a certified U.S. birth certificate with a raised seal. If your name is now different, you will also need to show proof of name change, like a marriage license or divorce decree. If you were not born in the U.S, you will need an approved citizenship or legal presence document. It's important to have the proper documents before you come in.

"It's simply a longer transaction, we do need to review those documents," Woodhams said.

The REAL ID is part of a federal law created in in 2005 to increase security after September 11, 2001.

"What they found was hijackers were able to obtain fraudulent U.S. IDs in other states," Woodhams said.

Back at the SOS office, Rutowski went with an Enhanced ID, instead of a REAL ID. It costs a bit more, but allows him to travel in the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean nations. He'll still need his Passport for other international travel.

The REAL ID law goes into effect October of 2020.

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