BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that a bill recently approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor will bring Massachusetts into compliance with the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005.
The Federal law establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards throughout the Nation. While making progress towards compliance, the Commonwealth has sought multiple extensions over the years to implement the Federal law.
“The passage of this legislative provision ensures that the Bay State, like all other states, fulfills the Federal requirements and meets the enforcement deadlines,” said Senator Moore. “The new law supports enhanced security features to better protect the identity of Massachusetts residents. The law also provides the Registry of Motor Vehicles enough time to educate and execute the roll out of REAL ID licenses and ID cards.”
The new state law creates a two-tier system for issuing licenses and IDs to current holders and new applicants. The first tier follows the existing process and documentation requirements already instituted in Massachusetts. The second tier establishes a new, enhanced form of license and ID that meet the stricter REAL ID requirements.
REAL ID cards, which will start being issued in the fall of 2017, are visually distinct from traditional IDs currently issued in Massachusetts. The new licenses will be phased in over a five-year span with no additional cost to acquire. While no immediate action is required by Massachusetts residents, it is important to note that the REAL IDs will be the only form of valid identification to access federal facilities and commercial aircraft by October of 2020. REAL ID licenses and ID cards, however, will not replace passports as acceptable form of international identification.
This two-tier approach, which has already been implemented in sixteen other states, satisfies the requirements set forth by the Federal REAL ID Act. The new state law does not extend driver’s license and ID card eligibility beyond where it is currently. For additional information about the Federal requirements, please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website, https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.