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Real ID Ready for Massachusetts – Your Guide to Understanding REAL ID Requirements

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Whether you’ve recently become aware of REAL ID or COVID restrictions postponed your plans to obtain it, the REAL ID should be on your radar, especially if you are a resident of Massachusetts. The need for REAL ID may come up when you renew your driver’s license. And if you’re not up for renewal before May 7, 2025, but you frequently take domestic flights or visit federal facilities, it’s crucial to learn more about REAL ID.

What Is REAL ID?

A REAL ID is a form of identification that meets enhanced security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. Passed by Congress in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, the REAL ID Act aimed to prevent airline terrorism by strengthening requirements for documents granting access to domestic planes and specific federal agencies.

For Massachusetts residents, the introduction of REAL ID represents a significant step in enhancing security measures, and the Commonwealth has been proactive in implementing the measures required by the Act.

Understanding REAL ID Since a REAL ID is provided in the form of a driver’s license, it can be easy to overlook the unique requirements associated with it. The first thing to note is that not everyone needs it. It’s not necessary for driving, voting, or regular identification purposes. However, post the May 7, 2025, deadline for compliance, Massachusetts residents require a REAL ID for specific activities.

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What Massachusetts Residents Need to Know

Here’s what you, as a resident of the Bay State, need to know:

  • Any eligible citizen 18 or older can get a REAL ID in Massachusetts.
  • Your standard Massachusetts driver’s license will still be effective for driving and identification purposes.
  • A REAL ID is not necessary for applying for or receiving federal benefits.
  • The REAL ID requirement officially came into effect on May 23, 2023.
  • A REAL ID or another form of TSA-approved ID is required to board domestic flights in the United States.
  • To travel internationally, Massachusetts residents will still need a passport.
  • A REAL ID will be necessary to enter secure federal facilities (like a military base).
  • REAL ID is also required to enter a nuclear plant.
  • Upgrading from a standard license to a REAL ID in Massachusetts involves more documents than usual. It’s prudent to check the Massachusetts RMV website before your appointment for a complete list of required documents.
  • You cannot get a Massachusetts REAL ID online.
  • Your license is not a REAL ID if it says “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply.”
  • A Massachusetts REAL ID license is identified by a star in the top right corner of your license.
  • It includes additional technology that makes it harder to forge.
  • Upgrading to REAL ID may cost more than your usual standard license cost. Pricing details can be found on the Massachusetts RMV website.

Do Massachusetts Residents Need a REAL ID?

In most situations, a REAL ID isn’t required. However, it could be more convenient to have one instead of various identification cards for different purposes. As a Massachusetts resident, you will need a REAL ID for the following reasons:

  • You fly domestically and don’t have a passport or other form of TSA-approved identification.
  • You need to enter military bases or nuclear facilities.
  • You have to visit federal courthouses, federal prisons, or other federal facilities that require identification.

Frequently Asked Questions About REAL ID in Massachusetts

woman handing over a REAL ID to tsa agent
A female traveler giving ID to a customer check in officer at the airline service counter

How Do I Get One?

Make an appointment or visit your local Massachusetts RMV. Bring all necessary documents, even if you submitted them online. Pay the fee for your license renewal.

How Do I Know If My License Is REAL ID Compliant?

Many Massachusetts residents already have a compliant license. If compliant, a star marks it on the upper right corner. If you’ve recently renewed your license without upgrading to a REAL ID, your standard license is marked NOT FOR FEDERAL IDENTIFICATION.

International Travel

No. You will still need a passport for international flights or other international travel that currently requires a passport. However, if you don’t have a REAL ID, your passport will allow you to travel on domestic flights.

Do Children Under 18 Need a REAL ID for Domestic Flights?

The TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with an adult. However, after the May 7, 2025, deadline, accompanying adults will need one. Unaccompanied minors also do not need any form of identification, and this remains the same. However, airlines have varied requirements when children fly alone. It’s possible that you will need to have a REAL ID to book a flight for your child to fly alone.

What Documents Do I Need to Get My REAL ID?

  • One document with your full name that proves your identity and date of birth
  • One document with your full name and SSN to prove your social security number
  • Two documents with your current physical address proving your place of residence in Massachusetts
  • One or more documents verifying any name change (like marriage and divorce certificates)
  • For non-U.S. citizens- one document with full name proving legal status
  • It’s important to note that all documents must be original (no photocopies or laminated documents). Additionally, a single document can’t prove more than one requirement.

For more information about REAL ID in Massachusetts, visit the official Massachusetts RMV website. The site provides a comprehensive list of documents needed for a REAL ID, along with the cost and the RMV locations where you can get your REAL ID.

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