Is your Maryland driver’s license or identification card a REAL ID?
This isn’t a question of fake versus real, or something that can be seen on the card itself, but whether you have provided the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration with copies of certain documents required by the REAL ID Act of 2005.
“The federal Real ID Act was passed after the tragic events of 9/11 and essentially the goal is to ensure the security of driver’s license and ID cards,” said Administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration Chrissy Nizer. “In particular, if a state is not compliant, then an individual can’t use that diver’s license to enter a federal facility, or to board a commercial airline.”
Maryland IDs have been REAL ID compliant since 2011, Nizer said, but part of that compliance is making sure people who are renewing their license or identification cards are bringing the proper documents to be scanned and filed.
“They’ll need to provide documentation of their identity and age, so that is generally a US passport or your birth certificate,” she said. “Then you need to provide documentation of your Social Security number, so Social Security card, W-2, 1099; those are common documents.”
Also required is two forms of proof of residency, according to Nizer, which could be utility bills, bank statements, or the like showing your address.
The MVA first began scanning documents from people renewing their licenses in 2009, Nizer said, and has so far processed around 1.8 million Maryland license and identification card holders, which means many people may have already taken care of this particular task.
How can you tell? The MVA has an online REAL ID lookup tool at www.mva.maryland.gov/realid/realidlookup.htm.
“They can enter their driver’s license number and in a few easy steps see if they will be required to provide documents or not,” Nizer said. “We’ve got an online document guide that you can actually walk through and make sure you actually have the right documents and at the end you can make an appointment.”
Nizer said the MVA is committed to making sure that customers that make an appointment to provide documents online will be seen within 15 minutes at their branch of the MVA.
“We know it’s a bit of an inconvenience, but we are trying to make it as convenient as possible,” she said. “We are encouraging customers to go there early, you can do it at any point, and that way if you do need to bring in documents you can start getting those documents ready.”
It was that very reason that Maryland Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, mentioned the REAL ID Act in one of her recent newsletters to her constituents in Carroll County.
“We all wait to the last minute to do stuff and we haven’t had to have our birth certificate since we first got our driver’s license, and all of a sudden you have to find it,” Krebs said. “I try to remind people that you better start looking because if you wait for the week before or the day before and you don’t have it, it can take you some time to get your birth certificate.”
That’s especially true for people born out of state, Nizer said, and so the MVA has started to give people more advanced notice of the need to renew their license.
“We used to notify within three months. We’re now actually notifying at six months in advance to provide some additional time to acquire those documents,” she said. ”I would encourage people to go online and check out the tools we have there.”
“We’re just trying to educate people this is a new requirement and that you do it once, and then you don’t have to do it again,” Krebs added.
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For more information on how the REAL ID Act affects you or to check and see if your Maryland driver’s license is compliant, visit www.mva.maryland.gov/realid/index.htm or call 410-768-7000.