Challenge of Obtaining Real I.D. With Name Change

Emily Ness
Updated: January 09, 2020 09:02 PM

The way that we travel in the United States will change come October as a result of a nationwide act that requires all who wish to fly domestically to have a real I.D., an enhanced I.D. or a passport. But, getting a real I.D. is a process that one local woman says poses challenges for those who have changed their name.


“If you have been married more than once, you have to get all of your marriage licenses, all your divorce papers, you have to have your birth certificate and whatever else. Well, I don’t think the government thought about what this was going to cost a lot of women in our country,” Lynn Roehl said.

To obtain a real I.D., the Minnesota and Wisconsin DMV do require proof of name changes.

“The federal real I.D. rule requires that anyone who has a name that is different than what appears on their birth certificate—they do need to provide proof of the change of names so for somebody who, typically a woman, but not always has changed their name as a result of marriage and/or divorce, they will need to provide that documentation,” Patrick Fernan, DMV Deputy Administrator for WisDot said.

Minnesota and Wisconsin officials say it is best to provide proof of each name change. 

"It’s best to bring each so that if there’s been multiple marriages and the name is different than appears on the birth certificate and it’s changed a couple times, it’s helpful to have that pattern of name change so that there aren’t any issues," Fernan said.

This documentation can come in the form of an original or certified marriage certificate, record of divorce or court order. Minnesota lists acceptable documents here and Wisconsin lists acceptable documents here.

“Part of that federal law is to make sure that you have those documents on the front end when you apply for a real I.D. that proves you are who you say you are,” Bruce Gordon, Communications Director for Minnesota Department of Public Safety said.

The cost of obtaining certified copies of these documents for those who may have lost originals varies between states. Minnesota lists prices here and Wisconsin lists prices here.

“I’m thinking, there’s got to be a lot of women in our country that have been married more than once and they’re going to have to do this,” Roehl said. “Even in other states, I’m reading that other women are frustrated.”

Besides the monetary costs of requesting old documents, Roehl says there is a personal cost.

“A lot of women have been abused. They don’t want to dredge up all this stuff and having to drag out their marriage and divorce papers from a relationship they’re trying to forget,” Roehl said.

Many states have issued real I.D.’s for years. Wisconsin began issuing real I.D.'S in 2013 and Minnesota in 2018. Come October though, all will need either a real I.D., an enhanced I.D. or a passport to fly within the country.


Emily Ness

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