Wednesday, May 11, 2022

REAL ID enforcement deadline less than a year away

AUGUSTA — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security REAL ID enforcement deadline is less than a year away – May 3, 2023.

While the standard Maine credential is valid for all in-state purposes, as of May 3, 2023, travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, a REAL ID-compliant State ID, a valid U.S. passport, passport card or other federally-issued identity document to fly domestically, or access federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

“For many Mainers, obtaining a REAL ID credential will be a choice they want to opt into, so they need to be aware of this upcoming deadline to be able to plan ahead accordingly,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. “Our Bureau of Motor Vehicles staff are ready and able to work with Mainers who qualify for these credentials to get them what they need to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings by the enforcement deadline.”

The “REAL ID” is a version of your Maine driver’s license or State ID that is compliant with federal standards for identity documents. All REAL ID-compliant credentials have a version of a gold star on the face of the card; in Maine, it is a gold State of Maine outline with a white star cutout in the center.

The REAL ID-compliant credential is optional for Mainers. However, beginning May 3, 2023, those who have only a standard Maine license or State ID will not be able to use it as identification for federal purposes, such as boarding a commercial aircraft.

“With everyone’s busy lives these days, deadlines have a way of sneaking up on us,” said Deputy Secretary of State for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Cathie Curtis. “We encourage Mainers who want and qualify for a Real ID credential to come in to a BMV branch soon so they’re well ahead of next May’s deadline.”

BMV branch offices are located throughout the state and are open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for walk-in service.  On average, it takes 10-14 calendar days for an ID card or diver license to be mailed to a customer, so BMV wants to ensure Mainers submit their application well in advance of their expected travel dates.

At the beginning of May, there were 1,149,594 total driver licenses and state ID cards issued to Mainers. Of those, only 124,856 are REAL ID cards.

Mainers can obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or State ID at any Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, all of which are open to the public without appointment. For more information about REAL ID in Maine, including a checklist of the necessary documents to obtain the credential, visit

Those who choose to retain a non-REAL ID compliant Maine license or ID card, can also find information about alternative forms of ID for federal purposes at Those who prefer to obtain a passport or passport card in lieu of a REAL ID-compliant Maine credential should plan on processing times of 8 to 11 weeks for U.S. passports.