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If you have to renew your license, like Lisa, you might be wondering about the new Real ID. Actually, we weren’t, until the letter came saying that the Feds were going to the Real ID soon and that we’d need them to get into airports and federal buildings. When Lisa read the letter from Wisconsin’s DMV, it said that she’d need a birth certificate. It also said she’d need proof of name change if different from the name on her birth certificate. That would be the $20 marriage license we never ordered from Waukesha County. Or maybe, she doesn’t need all that.

We just got done sending out an email to the DMV to find out, mostly because it’s just not clear. The specific section of the letter that mentioned name changes seems to imply proof is needed only if the name change is recent, like since you last license. That would mean she does not need the marriage license.

Also, there are two pages online that seem to require conflicting necessary documents for the same ID card. The link listed in the letter ( lists seven categories of proof, while the letter listed five. The letter says you need documents from each category, but the website doesn’t really say, plus men without a name change would seemingly only need four categories in the letter. On top of that, the first page I found online ( simply lists documents that are acceptible. Because that resource doesn’t say ALL FIFTEEN are REQUIRED, a reader would assume ONE would suffice.

On top of those rules, one additional headache is the multiple divorcee. Apparently, she will have to provide proof of EACH name change since birth. Really, that's what the letter said.

The email we sent to the DMV simply asked for clarification for us and in the available resources so that people aren’t running out to get official birth certificates and marriage licenses willy nilly, although I suppose that would be a lot of $20 fees to throw into the transportation budget deficit. We’ll update this post with a response to the inquiry.

Click the next page for the response

Re: Getting a Driver License

Good Afternoon Ms. Jaeger,


Thank you for using the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website.


Effective January 14, 2013, Wisconsin DMV began issuing driver licenses and ID cards that meet new federal REAL ID requirements. While all Wisconsin licenses and ID cards will be valid for federal uses for the next few years, at some point before your next renewal, a REAL ID license or ID card will be required for identification at airports and federal buildings.


The cost to renew your existing ID card or get a REAL ID compliant card will be the same.


If you want a REAL ID compliant driver license, you must also provide proof of:

  • Name, Date of Birth (Certified Birth Certificate or Valid U.S. Passport)
  • Citizenship or legal status in the U.S. (Certified Birth Certificate or Valid U.S. Passport)
  • Identity (Current Driver License or social security card)
  • Social Security Number (Social Security Card, W2 or 1099)
  • Wisconsin residency (where you live) (Utility Bill, Bank Statement, pay check stub, etc.)
  • Name change (if applicable – if your current last name is different from your name on the Birth Certificate)*
    • This is necessary for every name change you have made to show the transition from one name to the next from birth name to your current name.


*If you have a valid U.S. Passport in your current last name you do not need to provide proof of Name Change.


From this canned response, I believe (and it's still not that clear, and certainly not answering the specific question I asked) that ladies, you do need a marriage license to prove your name is different from that on your birth certificate. A sad waste of $20, more if they don't accept Lisa's not-as-official-as-mine birth certificate. All to get into a database, be allowed in airports (haven't done it in fifteen years), and go into federal buildings (why would anyone ever do that?), which now makes me ask why have one when she can spend a bit more and have a passport, unless that stupid passport needs a marriage license. 

Written by Brian Jaeger, owner of Satisfamily, McNewsy, PassivNinja, Educabana, RealWisconsinNews, ManCrushFanClub, WildWestAllis, SitcomLifeLessons, and VoucherSchool.