Deadline to obtain real ID closing in
By Chief Steven J. Wojnar Dudley Police Department
The “REAL ID” driver’s license program is now within one year of full implementation in Massachusetts. This is a federal security program created in 2005, due to the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The goal is to have standardized and secure identifications issued throughout the country. This enables people to use their license as an official identification for domestic air travel or to enter federal facilities. Under this program, Massachusetts ID’s will meet similar standards as other states. This was supposed to be in effect as of October 2020, however; due to the COVID-19 emergency, several dates have been moved. Since we continue to receive questions on this, I was asked to provide some updates on this program.
People who have valid licenses have a choice of obtaining a standard driver’s license or a REAL ID. Both are available for issue by the Massachusetts Registry. In Massachusetts, the deadline to obtain a REAL ID was extended until May 3, 2023. This means after that date, only a REAL ID or a valid passport would be an acceptable form of identification to fly domestically or enter federal buildings. These pandemic-related moves have allowed everyone more time to obtain these ID’s. If you wish to obtain a standard license you can follow the same renewal plan as before. This may be done online or in person at a Mass DOT Registry point. Should you wish to obtain the REAL ID, it must be done in person, at a Registry or an AAA office if you are a member. You will be required to provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence, your Massachusetts residency information, and social security number. A passport or an original birth certificate (with raised seal) are a valid proof of citizenship. In addition, for the REAL ID, you will need some documentation that will display your full 9-digit Social Security Number. These can include a pay stub, W2 form, 1099 form, a tax return, and any other official document that has the full number. Should you be required to prove residency, you can use any number of documents that display a residential (not PO Box) address. For married individuals, who have changed their name, an original marriage certificate is generally required. A piece of first-class mail issued within 60 days, a tax or utility bill, or other official correspondence proves your residence status. More information can be found at https://www.mass.gov/guides/massachusetts-identification-id-requirements.
The form of license you wish to have is your choice. If you have no intention of flying or using this to enter federal buildings, the standard license is fine. If you wish to use a REAL ID, you will need to have it in place by May 2023. According to Mass DOT, approximately 41% of drivers have obtained these REAL IDs so far. They advise everyone seeking these documents to make an appointment soon. The appointments will fill up closer to the date and may not be available. Please review the proper documentation to bring with you to obtain the REAL ID to avoid multiple trips to the Registry and the frustration that accompanies it.
For those still seeking vaccination or COVID related information, it can be found at www.dudleyma.gov or by calling 508-949-8036. During these challenging times, we, at the Dudley Police Department, greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.
Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department, 71 West Main St., Dudley MA 01571 or email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.