Massachusetts Residents Face Looming Deadline for REAL ID Compliance

Massachusetts residents must obtain REAL ID-compliant licenses or passports by May 7, 2025, to access domestic flights and federal buildings. Currently, only 54% of licensed drivers in the state are REAL ID-compliant, with nearly 3 million credentials issued so far.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Massachusetts Residents Face Looming Deadline for REAL ID Compliance

Massachusetts Residents Face Looming Deadline for REAL ID Compliance

Massachusetts residents have until May 7, 2025, to obtain real, rapidly ID-compliant driver's licenses or passports to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings. Currently, only 54% of licensed drivers in the state are REAL ID-compliant, with nearly 3 million credentials issued so far.

Why this matters: The REAL ID deadline has significant implications for millions of Americans who rely on their driver's licenses as their primary form of identification, and failure to comply could lead to widespread travel disruptions and restricted access to federal facilities. Moreover, the successful implementation of REAL ID requirements will impact the overall security and integrity of the country's identification systems.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005 in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, set minimum security standards for state-issued identification documents. The law was initially set to take effect in 2020 but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting backlogs at motor vehicle departments nationwide.

To obtain a REAL ID, Massachusetts residents must provide specific documents during an in-person appointment at their local Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) office. These include two proofs of state residency, proof of a full Social Security number, and proof of lawful presence in the country. All documents must be original or certified copies, valid, up-to-date, and cannot be laminated.

The RMV is encouraging residents to upgrade to a REAL ID during their normal license renewal process, which comes at no additional cost compared to a standard license renewal. "We want Massachusetts residents to know they can upgrade to the REAL ID driver's license or identification card during their normal renewal process for the same cost as a renewal," said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie.

The RMV recommends gathering the required documents well in advance of scheduling an appointment to ensure having the necessary information. Appointments can be scheduled online at Mass.Gov/RMV or, for AAA members, at northeast.aaa.com/automotive/registry-services/massachusetts.html. The fee for renewing a non-commercial standard or REAL ID driver's license is $50, while renewing a Mass ID costs $25.

It's important to note that a REAL ID is optional for those who have alternative TSA-approved identification, such as a valid passport, passport card, military ID, or Global Entry card. However, for the many residents who rely on their driver's license as their primary form of identification, upgrading to a REAL ID will be essential to avoid travel disruptions or issues accessing federal facilities after the real, coming May 2025 deadline.

As the REAL ID compliance deadline approaches, Massachusetts officials are working to raise awareness and encourage residents to take timely action. With just under half of the state's licensed drivers still lacking a compliant credential, the RMV faces a significant task in processing a high volume of REAL ID applications and appointments in the coming months. Residents are advised not to wait until the last minute to obtain their REAL ID to ensure a smooth transition and avoid potential delays or complications.

Key Takeaways

  • Massachusetts residents must obtain REAL ID-compliant licenses or passports by May 7, 2025.
  • Only 54% of licensed drivers in MA are currently REAL ID-compliant.
  • Required documents for REAL ID include 2 proofs of residency, SSN, and lawful presence.
  • Upgrading to REAL ID during license renewal costs the same as a standard renewal ($50).
  • A REAL ID is optional for those with alternative TSA-approved identification.