Driver’s licenses, IDs to require proof of citizenship beginning March 26

Published: 3/18/2018 10:12:13 PM
Modified: 3/18/2018 10:12:14 PM

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will require proof of U.S. citizenship beginning March 26. Anyone renewing a driver’s license, identification card or learner’s permit will need documentation showing either citizenship or “lawful presence,” as required by federal and state law.

Lawful presence means that a person is legally living in the United States, according to federal immigration laws. All United States and lawfully permanent residents have permanent lawful presence. Those who don’t have permanent lawful presence, but are studying, working or living temporarily in the United States, may have temporary lawful presence that may vary in length.

On March 26, customers will have the choice between a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, or standard ones.

REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for IDs that was created in 2005 as a result of increased federal security measures after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It will be available on March 26; however, people will not need a REAL ID until October 2020. People will also be able to use their active passports, instead of a REAL ID. A passport or REAL ID will be needed to fly in the United States, or to enter restricted areas of federal buildings. Standard Massachusetts licenses and IDs will not be valid as a federal ID after October 2020.

“We encourage the public to review information on our website at to learn what documents they must provide for the credential they seek,” said Registrar Erin Deveney. “In most cases, people will have the required documents on hand as these documents are regularly requested when a child starts school, when someone travels outside the country, or in order to get married.”

On March 26, individuals applying for Registry credentials are encouraged to start their applications online at and answer a few questions to determine if they should choose a REAL ID driver’s license or ID or a standard driver’s license or ID, and exactly what identification documents are necessary for each.

Customers who visit the RMV’s website will be able to print online applications or have an application that can be displayed on a mobile phone. The website tells customers exactly what to bring to complete the transaction and also directs AAA members to closest AAA offices for renewals. The online application includes a bar code that will be scanned to retrieve the customer’s information in the system to save time in line. Renewal customers requesting a standard card may be able to perform their renewal successfully online, without coming in person.

Before March 26, customers can process renewals as usual, either online or in person.

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