MVA requiring additional documents to comply with federal REAL ID law

Marylanders who need to renew their driver’s licenses or get identification cards may have to dig through their files for birth certificates and other paperwork first.

Since Jan. 1, the Motor Vehicle Administration has been requiring more residents to bring in documentation when they renew licenses and state identification cards. The documents are required for Maryland’s licensing program to remain in compliance with federal laws.

Those who are affected will need to bring proof of their age, identity, Social Security number and address, said Christine Nizer, the MVA administrator.

Age and identity most often are documented by a birth certificate or passport. A Social Security number can be documented by a Social Security card or tax documents such as a W-2 form.

The address must be confirmed through two documents, such as a car registration card, a bank account statement, a lease, a utility bill or mail from a government agency.

Over the next several years, the requirements will affect millions of Marylanders.

Out of 4.7 million Marylanders who hold licenses or ID cards, about 1 million already have their documentation on file. The MVA has been reviewing and scanning the documents for new licensees — new drivers and people who move to the state — since 2009, Nizer said.

But that leaves 3.7 million Marylanders who have not yet been required to submit the documents. As those customers come up for renewal, the MVA will review and scan their documents, Nizer said.

When licenses and ID cards come up for renewal, Marylanders who need to bring the extra documents will receive mailed notices that include an alert on the outside of the envelope and detailed information inside. Those who have sent the MVA their email addresses will get an email notice, too.

“We’re trying to use every opportunity we can to get the word out to customers,” Nizer said.

Nizer said the renewal notifications include detailed information on the required documents, as does the MVA’s website.

“We will let them know what they need to bring,” she said.

The documentation is required for the state to remain compliant with the federal REAL ID Act.

The act was passed by Congress in 2005 and sets standards for state driver’s licenses. Licenses and ID cards must meet REAL ID standards to be recognized for federal purposes, such as going through airport security screening, entering federal buildings and visiting nuclear power plants.

The change does not affect the renewal of Maryland licenses and ID cards that are issued to undocumented residents, Nizer said. The licenses and ID cards issued to undocumented residents are not REAL ID-compliant.

At the Baltimore City MVA location on Reisterstown Road, site assistant manager Thomas Stottlemire said that “in general, people do know” about the new requirements.

Of the 460 driver’s licenses and 270 IDs that have been issued at the location since Jan. 1, only two people had been turned away because they lacked the required documents as of Saturday, Stottlemire said.

“They either didn’t have primary identification or they had copies, which we could not take,” he said.

Licenses expire after six to eight years, so it may be several years before many residents need to produce the documentation to the MVA. But those with licenses expiring in 2018 will need to get their paperwork ready.

Nizer encourages customers to use the MVA’s website to set an appointment for renewing licenses and ID cards. She said customers are guaranteed to be served within 15 minutes of their appointment time.

Baltimore Sun reporter John-John Williams IV contributed to this article.

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