RMV Announces New Requirements: Lawful Presence and REAL ID

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For Immediate Release
March 9, 2018
MassDOT Press Office: 857-368-8500

Getting or Renewing a Driver’s License, ID Card or Learner’s Permit?

Massachusetts RMV Announces New Requirements:

Lawful Presence and REAL ID

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is reminding the public that on March 26, 2018, to get or renew any driver's license, ID card, or learner's permit, customers will need documentation showing United States citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal and state law.

Lawful presence means that a person is legally living in the United States according to federal immigration laws. All United States citizens and lawfully permanent residents have a permanent lawful presence in the U.S. Non-U.S. individuals who are studying, working, or living temporarily in the U.S. may have a temporary lawful presence that may vary in length.

On March 26, customers will have the choice between a REAL ID Driver’s License or ID Card or a Standard Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID Card. REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for IDs that was created in 2005 as a result of increased federal security measures after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

REAL ID will be available on March 26, 2018; however, people will not need a REAL ID until October of 2020. And if they have an active passport and don’t mind carrying it, they will never need a REAL ID. After October of 2020, citizens will need either a passport or REAL ID Massachusetts Driver’s License to fly in the United States or to enter restricted areas of federal buildings.  The Standard Massachusetts License or ID card will not be valid as a federal ID after October 2020.

“We encourage the public to review information on our website at mass.gov/id to learn what documents they must provide for the credential they seek,” said Registrar Erin Deveney. “In most cases, people will have the required documents on hand as these documents are regularly requested when a child starts school when someone travels outside the country, or in order to get married.”

On March 26, 2018, individuals applying for Registry credentials are encouraged to start their applications online at mass.gov/rmv and answer a few questions to determine if they should choose a REAL ID driver’s license or ID or a Standard Driver’s license or ID, and exactly what identification documents are necessary for each. Customers who visit the RMV’s website will be able to print online applications or have an application that can be displayed on a mobile phone. The website tells customers exactly what to bring to complete the transaction and also directs AAA members to the closest AAA offices for renewals. The online application includes a barcode that will be scanned to retrieve the customer’s information in the system to save time in line. Renewal customers requesting a standard card may be able to perform their renewal successfully online, without coming in for the transaction in person. 

Before March 26, 2018: Customers can process renewals as usual - online or in person at a RMV Service Center or AAA location, (if they are a member of AAA).  The Registry encourages the public to renew early.

Lawful Presence Documentation

For U.S. citizens, a valid, unexpired U.S. passport is sufficient proof of lawful presence. U.S. citizens may also provide a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate.

For permanent residents, a valid permanent resident card (green card) is sufficient proof of lawful presence.

For customers who are not U.S. citizens, valid, verifiable immigration documents, as well as proof that they have been granted a legal stay in the U.S. for at least 12 months, is required. Their license or ID will expire when their legal stay is over.