Everything you need to know about Real ID in Wisconsin

Credit: Wisconsin DMV

By Christina Lorey

January 23, 2024

Starting in May 2025, you’ll need a Real ID to fly within the US. The Department of Homeland Security initially set a deadline for late 2020 before postponing that to 2021, 2023, and now, to 2025 to ensure all states have time to comply.

Click Here to Check If Your ID Qualifies as ‘Real.’

Here are a few things to know about Real ID in Wisconsin:

What It Is: Real ID is a more secure version of the traditional driver’s license. The cards have a detailed black and white photo laser-engraved on a polycarbonate card as well as two high-definition, high-contrast images, making the card much more difficult to counterfeit. Wisconsin Real ID cards are marked with a star in the upper righthand corner.

When You’ll Need It: Starting May 7, 2025, you’ll need a Real ID to fly within the US or to visit a federal facility, like a military base. As long as it hasn’t expired, your driver’s license will still be valid after that date, but you won’t be able to fly domestically unless you have a US passport.

How to Get It: You need to go to the DMV in-person to get a Real ID in Wisconsin. Although you can’t complete the process online, you can use the DMV’s interactive website dlguides.wi.gov to start filling out the right forms.

At the DMV, you’ll have to prove your information in up to six categories, showing your passport, birth certificate, marriage license, Social Security card, W-2 tax form, and/or more. Here’s the full list of what to bring.

How Much It Costs: Wisconsin’s Real IDs are the same price as getting (or renewing) a regular driver’s license: $34. A regular photo ID costs $28. If your current ID doesn’t expire before 2025 and you want to get a Real ID before then, you’ll have to pay the cost of a duplicate card: $14.

Why The Deadline Could Change (Again): The Department of Homeland Security has already pushed back the Real ID deadline three times due to delays caused by the pandemic. While it’s possible, but not probable, it could change again, the backlog has caused a debate among people questioning whether Real IDs are necessary in the first place.

MORE: AI claims it can plan a trip anywhere in the world. So we tried it in Wisconsin.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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