Maryland Driver’s Licenses and the Real ID : One Million Drivers Need to File Documentation

If you’ve heard about the Real ID but aren’t sure what it is and whether you have one, you’re not alone. However, this directly affects your Maryland Driver’s License, and if you haven’t filed the required documentation, you may be at risk for having your license recalled. Here’s some information about what the Real ID is and what you’ll need to do to be compliant.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress passed the Real ID Act establishing federal standards for drivers’ licenses and ID cards. Tragically, 18 of the terrorists responsible for this heinous act were able to board the airplanes they hijacked using state IDs obtained fraudulently. Now, everyone will need a Real ID license or ID card for certain federal activities, such as entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight.

According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) website, “Enforcement of the REAL ID Act at the card level begins on October 1, 2020. Maryland has been Real ID compliant since 2011.” However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified the MVA that nearly a million Maryland drivers have not filed the required documentation for their Real ID driver’s licenses to be compliant.

Maryland drivers with a star in the upper right corner of their driver’s licenses already have the Real ID. However, DHS requires these drivers have proof of identity and residency on file with the Maryland MVA. The state has now issued guidelines for drivers to return to the MVA to provide the required documentation.

Local news reports state that while 2.7 million Maryland drivers have their required documentation on file with the MVA, another million Maryland drivers do not. The MVA began notifying Maryland drivers by email and postal mail last year about the Real ID requirements. However some 50,000 drivers were at risk of having their licenses recalled as of this past June if they did not file the required documentation, which includes…

  • A birth certificate or passport
  • Proof of Social Security
  • Two documents proving a Maryland home address

If you receive a notice from the MVA to provide your Real ID documentation, do not ignore it! The MVA has provided a lookup tool and other resources to help Maryland drivers check their Real ID status and learn what to do next. To see whether your Maryland driver’s license is compliant and for guidelines on gathering the required documentation, visit the MVA Real ID website. Don’t get caught in the lines of other last-minute drivers who’d wished they hadn’t waited.


1 million Maryland drivers with state-issued Real ID licenses still are not compliant
Washington Post June 1, 2019

Real ID: Some Maryland driver’s licenses will be recalled in June
Delmarva Now May 9, 2019

Maryland MVA : Real ID FAQs
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration collected Aug. 28, 2019

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