Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017
Contact: Kristen Muszynski
207-626-8404/ 207-441-7638

Homeland Security grants grace period to continue accepting Maine licenses for federal ID purposes

AUGUSTA – The Department of Homeland Security has extended a grace period for the State of Maine’s REAL ID Act compliance, which will allow federal agencies to continue to accept driver's licenses and identification cards from Maine.
The Department of Homeland security issued a compliance waiver to the State of Maine on June 15, 2017, which expires at midnight on Oct. 10, 2017. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap submitted a request for a one-year renewal on Sept. 15, 2017.

While review of the request is underway, the Department of Homeland Security is granting a grace period from enforcement for all states with extensions expiring on Oct. 10, 2017. The grace period begins tomorrow, Oct. 11 and runs until Jan. 22, 2018.

During this grace period, Maine driver’s licenses and IDs will continue to be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes, such as entrance to federal facilities.

The waiver can be renewed annually upon request through 2020, as long as the State can demonstrate efforts towards compliance.

The DHS is implementing the final phase of the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed in 2005 that seeks to improve the security standards for state-issued identification credentials. On April 28, 2017, Gov. Paul LePage signed into law LD 306, which requires the State of Maine to comply with the federal REAL ID Act. Passage of this law has allowed the State to request this compliance extension while working towards implementation.

During the waiver period, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles will work toward implementing the systems and procedures that will enable BMV to issue Real ID-compliant licenses and IDs. This system must be in place by July 1, 2019, per the new Maine law. At that time, any person who desires a Real ID-compliant license or ID will be able to obtain one at their local BMV office. In addition to the standard license requirements, Real ID applicants must provide proof of legal presence, such as a birth certificate (a copy of which will remain on file with the BMV) and submit to a photograph using facial recognition technology.

Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, citizens in states without either the compliant ID or a compliance waiver will not be able to use their IDs to board commercial aircraft. The State of Maine, however, expects to have a valid waiver at that time.

Once REAL ID-compliant credentials are available in Maine, those who have a valid license or ID will not be required to renew it prior to its expiration date, unless they choose to do so because they desire/need a REAL ID-compliant credential. Upon renewal, the BMV will issue REAL ID-compliant credentials unless a person states that s/he would prefer to opt out. Those who opt out will be choosing a “non-compliant” license. Beginning in 2020, those who choose to have “non-compliant” licenses will need to produce a passport or another acceptable identity document for federal purposes that require identification, such as boarding commercial aircraft and accessing federal facilities.

Please note that REAL ID does not affect:

  • Entering federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
  • Applying for or receiving federal benefits
  • Being licensed by a state to drive
  • Accessing health or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.

For additional information, visit the Department of Homeland Security website.