The Real ID Act (the Act), enacted by Congress in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, codified recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that the federal government set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. The Act establishes minimum security standards for the issuance of driver’s licenses and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and ID cards issued by states that do not follow the standards set forth in the Act for certain purposes. One such purpose is boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft. Following a 15-year, incremental phase-in, the final measures will become effective on October 1, 2020, and will require every traveler to present a valid passport or Real ID compliant driver’s license for air travel within the United States.
Real ID compliant driver’s licenses and state ID cards are marked with a gold circle and star and, here in Michigan, can only be obtained from the Secretary of State. Applications must be made in person at an SOS office (not online) where you will be required to produce a valid U.S. passport or certified birth certificate with a raised seal or stamp. You can apply for a Real ID when renewing your license or at any time. There is no extra charge unless you are outside your normal renewal time.
I took care of this myself a few months ago and the process was quick and painless. Best advice I can give: Make an appointment in advance if you want to avoid a long wait.