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Real ID or Standard Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID Card: Which to Choose When It’s Time to Renew

Avoid delays and problems by planning ahead.

Woman driving a carVisiting the Registry of Motor Vehicles to renew your license or ID can be frustrating and time consuming. Having the choice between a REAL ID or a Standard Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID Card can add to this confusion. REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for driver’s licenses and IDs that has been available since March 2018. After October of 2020, you will need either a passport or REAL ID Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID card to fly in the United States, or to enter restricted areas of federal buildings. The Standard Massachusetts License or ID card will not be valid as a federal ID after October 2020. Before renewing your license or ID, plan ahead to decide which type of license or ID card is right for you.

If you are computer savvy, you might want to visit mass.gov/rmv and answer a few questions to determine if you should choose a REAL ID Driver’s License or ID or a Standard Driver’s License or ID, and exactly what identification documents are necessary for each. Renewal customers requesting a Standard Driver’s License or ID may be able to perform their renewal successfully online, without coming in for the transaction in person. However, if you decide you need the REAL ID Driver’s License or ID, then you will need to complete your application in person.

If you do not use a computer, you can call (800) 858-3926 to get more information or visit your nearest RMV office. Also, if you are a AAA member you can contact your local AAA branch to find out what renewal services they offer.

If you want a REAL ID Driver’s License or ID, you’ll need to get the right documents together, along with the $50 fee. You’ll need to prove your:

  • U.S. citizenship or lawful presence via a current passport or birth certificate or a current visa or green card
  • Social Security number via a Social Security card
  • Massachusetts residency via two pieces of mail with a postmark not older than 60 days with your current name and address (for instance, a utility or credit card statement and a bank statement)
  • Your current driver’s license/ID

“After October of 2020, you will need either a passport or REAL ID Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID card to fly in the United States, or to enter restricted areas of federal buildings.”

If you’ve decided to stick with a Standard Driver’s License or ID you will need your current driver’s license or ID and your current passport or birth certificate or a current visa or green card, along with the $50 fee.

For both types of driver’s licenses or IDs, it is important to remember that all documents must be originals, as photocopies and laminated documents will not be accepted, and a document cannot be used to prove more than one requirement. Also, both types of driver’s licenses or IDs require you to fill out an application.

Keep in mind that your name must match for the Real ID Driver’s License or ID. 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 or ID. If you have had 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

For a Standard Driver’s License or ID card, a proof of name change document is not required.

Planning ahead will save you time and frustration, no matter whether you choose the Real ID or Standard option!