New Massachusetts ID Compliant Driver’s License Requirements | Mintz


On March 26, 2018, Massachusetts adopted a new driver’s license and identity card (Mass ID) system to comply with federal REAL ID standards.

Massachusetts residents now have two options for their driver’s license or mass ID card: a REAL ID compliant license or a Massachusetts standard license. The conditions for obtaining each have changed. A license valid from Massachusetts on March 26, 2018 will remain valid as a standard license until its expiration date.

What is a REAL ID and how is it different? :

A REAL ID will be marked “valid for federal identification purposes” with a gold star in the upper right corner. You must apply in person.

From October 2020, travelers will no longer be able to use a standard license to board an aircraft. Either a REAL ID, a valid passport (from any country), a permanent resident card (also known as a “green card”), an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or any other document listed here will be required to pass airport security. This is already true in all federal buildings where ID is required.

Regardless of which license an applicant chooses, new requirements are in place to obtain a Standard or REAL ID or Mass ID license. More important again, applicants will now need proof of US citizenship or legal presence for either type of request or renewal.

A social security number (SSN) alone is no longer sufficient for a new license or license renewal. Applicants must have documents showing American citizenship or that they were granted at least 12 months of legal presence (see below the documents necessary to prove it). People with pending asylum claims, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Adjustment of Status and others without a defined “duration” of their stay will be eligible for a 12-month license.

All licenses will expire on the same legal presence expiration date, but no license can be issued for less than two months or more than five years. Applicants eligible for a limited time license (under five) will need to apply for or renew their license in person.

What documents can prove legal presence? :

If you are a U.S. citizen: legal presence can be proven with a US passport or passport card, a certified copy of a US birth certificate, citizenship certificate, naturalization certificate, or foreign consular birth certificate.

If you are not a U.S. citizen: common documents to prove legal presence are a foreign passport with an affixed US visa and an I-94 stamp, an EAD (a work permit, attested by form I-766 or I-688B), or a resident card permanent.

Numerous other documents also attest to the legal presence, including refugee travel documents, asylum approval or proof of a pending asylum claim, TPS or adjustment of status.

Legal presence will be determined using the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE), the same system used by MassHealth to verify eligibility for health care benefits. The SAVE system checks the USCIS database based on information provided by applicants. This does not store this information.

If the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) cannot verify an applicant’s status through SAVE, the applicant will have the option of scanning or bringing the documents for review by special RMV staff.

Other necessary documents:

For a standard license: applicants will need a scan or a copy of a document to prove their residency in Massachusetts. Applicants will also need to enter their SSN for verification.

For a REAL ID / Mass ID license: applicants will need two original documents proving residency in Massachusetts. If they have a Social Security number, applicants will need to bring their Social Security card, tax form, or pay stub along with their full SSN. If an applicant does not have a Social Security number, the applicant must bring a Notice of Denial from the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) and a foreign passport with a valid U.S. visa affixed and an I stamp. -94.

The RMV recommends that everyone start their application for a new license / mass identity or renewal online in order to determine what documents they will specifically need.

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