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October 1, 2018 | last updated October 1, 2018 1:34 pm

Homeland Security: Maine licenses now acceptable for federal ID purposes

The Department of Homeland Security has issued Maine its final waiver for REAL ID Act compliance, which will allow federal agencies to continue to accept regular driver's licenses and identification cards from Maine through Oct. 1, 2020.

The current waiver, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, expires at midnight on Oct. 10, 2018. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap submitted a request for a renewal on Aug. 7 and the Department of Homeland Security has granted that request.

The current waiver is now valid through Oct. 1, 2019, however DHS will not be enforcing REAL ID requirements until Oct. 1, 2020. Until then, regular 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.

"Today's announcement by DHS mean Mainers can continue to fly using their Maine ID through October 10, 2019" said Paul Bradbury, director of the Portland International Jetport. "We are working closely with the Secretary of State's office and will provide more information on acquiring a REAL ID-compliant driver's license as the information becomes available."

The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles is now implementing the necessary systems and procedures to issue Real ID licenses and IDs beginning July 1, 2019. At that time, any person who desires a Real ID license or ID will be able to obtain one at their local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office.

In addition to the standard license requirements, Real ID applicants must provide proof of identity such as a birth certificate (a copy of which will remain on file with the BMV) and submit to a photograph using image verification technology.

Next steps

Homeland Security 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.

On April 28, 2017, Gov. Paul LePage signed into law LD 306, which required the state to comply with the federal REAL ID Act and allowed Maine to request compliance waivers while working towards implementation.

Once REAL ID credentials are available in Maine, those who have a valid regular license or ID will not be required to renew it prior to its expiration date, unless they choose to do so because they desire or need a REAL ID credential.

Upon renewal, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will issue REAL ID credentials upon request. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, those who choose to have a regular license 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.

Where REAL ID is not required

A news release from the Maine Secretary of State's Office said the REAL ID requirements do not affect:

  • Entering federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
  • Applying for or receiving federal benefits
  • Being licensed by a state to drive
  • Accessing health or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant's access to court proceedings)
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State website has more information about REAL ID online here.

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