Maryland is the first state in the nation to have its federally-mandated personal identification program recertified by the Department of Homeland Security, the head of the Motor Vehicles Administration announced on Thursday.
The REAL ID program was established by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to boost the standards states use in issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, to make them more secure.
Several of the 9/11 hijackers had bogus driver’s licenses.
States must have a REAL ID compliant system or be working off a DHS extension — and they must periodically undergo recertification.
By the October 2020 deadline, all Marylanders must have documents on file and be REAL ID compliant to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card to board an airplane or enter federal government facilities, the agency said.
Documents required include: a birth certificate or passport, proof of a Social Security number and two documents proving Maryland residence.
“With about 14 months to go until the October 1, 2020, deadline for REAL ID, more than half of Marylanders are REAL ID compliant,” MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer said in a statement.
“I want to thank our customers for taking the time to collect their documents and come to our branches. With this recertification, Marylanders can feel confident their REAL ID driver’s license or identification card is one of the most secure in the country.”
In June, The Washington Post reported that 1 million Marylanders with REAL ID licenses were not in full compliance with federal law because the MVA didn’t have copies of their personal documents on file.
The crush of people looking to meet looming deadlines created long lines at MVA offices for a time.
The state has increased personnel and can now handle more than 4,000 appointments per day, according to the agency. The key, Nizer said, is to go online and schedule an appointment, and to have documentation in hand, before leaving home.
In addition, MVA has extended hours on Thursdays statewide, and opened annex offices in Parkville and Columbia recently to help accommodate REAL ID customers.
“This recertification acknowledges all the hard work our MDOT MVA team has done to make it easier for customers to comply with REAL ID,” Nizer said.