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Be Prepared For Stress, Frustration & Exasperation In Renewing License

 As drivers across the state get ready to renew their Mass. Drivers Licenses, they are likely to be in for a stressful and frustrating effort, especially if they elect to secure a “Real ID” Massachusetts Drivers License ID card that is considered a form of Federal identification.  This Real ID license, with a star located in the upper right-hand corner, can be used for identification for airplane flights in addition for driving. The only other option for drivers is to renew their standard license.

   [REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for IDs that was created in 2005 as a result of increased federal security measures after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.]

   After October 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID or a passport to fly within the United States or enter federal buildings.

   However, putting together the required documents to secure the “Real ID” license can be a daunting effort. There are three key areas for which you must have documents: Proof of Lawful Presence, Proof of Social Security Number, and Proof of Massachusetts Residency.    

   Proof of Lawful Presence: There is a list of acceptable documents for this section from which to choose ONE submission; A valid unexpired passport. Should you not have one, then an original or certified version of a US birth certificate (Must have a raised seal). Hospital-issued birth certificates are not accepted. Women must also supply a marriage certificate (with a raised seal) if the name on their documents is different from their birth certificate.

   If your current name doesn’t match the one that appears on your lawful presence document(s), you must prove your legal name change in order to qualify for a REAL ID driver’s license/ID card. If multiple name changes, documentation for each name change must be provided. You will need to provide one of the following: Marriage Certificate (must be issued from the municipality); Divorce Decree; Court Document.

   In addition, if you were not born in the country you will need a valid unexpired Permanent Resident Card, Certificate of Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization or a Consular Report of birth abroad. There is also a list of foreign documents that can be used and must show that the applicant has been approved for a 12-month stay in the US.

   Proof of Social Security Number: a Social Security Number Card and it cannot be laminated; a W2 Form, or a paystub with applicant’s name and Social Security Number.

   Proof of Your Massachusetts Residency. For the Real ID, you must submit TWO forms of proof. - All MUST have your name and address on them. A current MA drivers license or MA ID card [a liquor ID is not acceptable]; a government-issued document such as a Medicaid statement, firearms ID card, jury duty summons, a property tax or excise tax bill dated within 60 days (must have your name on it); a utility bill, credit card statement or medical statement (must have your name on it) dated within 60 days, a current lease, mortgage or rental contract (must have your name on it); financial-related documents such as a pension statement/retirement statement, installment loan contract dated within 60 days.

    Caution for Women – there is a serious issue for you if you do not have your name on the two required proof of residency documents – such as utility bills, excise tax bill, real estate tax bill, lease, mortgage, etc. Oftentimes these may be in your spouse’s name only. Make certain that there are documents that show your name and address on them as proof of residency.

   You are required appear in person for a Real ID Drivers License. All the documents you submit will be copied. Documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates must have a raised seal – no copies of these are accepted. 

   Groton Town Clerk Michael Bouchard reports that there has been a threefold increase in requests for birth certificates as Massachusetts and other states implement this Federally mandated license that will also to be used for air travel. Bouchard said that birth certificates can be obtained in person, by mail, and by online ordering.

  Registry of Motor Vehicle offices and AAA offices, that also now process licenses, are extremely busy with significant waiting lines. People become very frustrated and angry when one or more of the documents they bring are rejected, only to have to return several times and wait in line again.  

   For those of you who have post office box addresses, and spouses with different last names, you should check with the Registry of Motor Vehicles or a AAA office to get information on how these are handled.


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