Maine licenses acceptable for federal ID purposes through Oct. 10, 2018

By Ramona du Houx

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap reminds all Maine residents that Maine driver’s licenses and ID cards are currently valid for federal purposes such as air travel.

In October 2017, the Department of Homeland Security issued a one-year waiver for the State of Maine’s REAL ID Act compliance, which will allow federal agencies to continue to accept driver's licenses and identification cards from Maine through Oct. 10, 2018. During this period, Maine driver’s licenses and IDs will be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes, such as entrance to federal facilities and boarding commercial aircraft.

“Many people are seeing outdated or inaccurate information online, particularly via social media sites, so we want to remind everyone that this waiver is in place through Oct. 10, 2018,” said Secretary Dunlap.

The DHS is implementing the final phase of the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed in 2005 that seeks to improve the security standards for state-issued identification credentials. During the waiver period, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles will work toward implementing the systems and procedures that will enable BMV to issue Real ID-compliant licenses and IDs.

The waiver can be renewed annually upon request through 2020, as long as the State can demonstrate efforts towards compliance. The State of Maine must begin to offer REAL ID-compliant licenses by July 1, 2019, per the new Maine law.

At that time, any person who desires a Real ID-compliant license or ID will be able to obtain one at their local BMV office. In addition to the standard license requirements, Real ID applicants must provide proof of legal presence, such as a birth certificate (a copy of which will remain on file with the BMV) and submit to a photograph using facial recognition technology.

Once REAL ID-compliant credentials are available in Maine, those who have a valid license or ID will not be required to renew it prior to its expiration date, unless they choose to do so because they desire/need a REAL ID-compliant credential. Upon renewal, the BMV will issue REAL ID-compliant credentials unless a person states that s/he would prefer to opt out.

Those who opt out will be choosing a “non-compliant” license. Beginning in 2020, those who choose to have “non-compliant” licenses will need to produce a passport or another acceptable identity document for federal purposes that require identification, such as boarding commercial aircraft and accessing federal facilities.

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State homepage includes the most up-to-date information about the State’s REAL ID status. For additional information, visit the Department of Homeland Security website.