MVA Clarifies Confusion Over REAL ID Deadline

Many Maryland residents incorrectly assumed they were almost out of time to prevent their license from being recalled after confusing messages from the MVA

After receiving confusing notices from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Thursday, some Maryland residents who have REAL ID licenses thought their licenses could be confiscated if they didn't provide documentation by June.

The truth is a little more complicated: all Maryland residents eventually need to bring in the documents to be scanned at an MVA location. Those documents can include a birth certificate or passport, proof of Social Security and two documents proving a Maryland address, according to NBC4's media partner WTOP.

For about 66,000 Maryland drivers who have a REAL ID license (identifiable by a star in the upper-right corner), that has to be done by June or their license could be "recalled," which means their license could be confiscated if they're pulled over.

Maryland residents first became frustrated when they were told in a Thursday press release that they'd been warned three times to provide documentation when in fact they'd never been warned before. 

That was because the vast majority of residents don't actually need to bring in documentation by June. The MVA will contact them at some future date to let them know their actual deadline.

Adding to the confusion, the MVA also provided a REAL ID lookup tool which originally did not include this clarification. When people originally used the tool, it would simply tell them they needed to submit documentation.

If they were part of the June group, they got a due date. If they weren't, they got no due date whatsoever, and assumed the June due date still applied.

The MVA is working to sort out this confusion. MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer told WTOP new language will be added to the tool that says: "If your REAL ID look up answers indicates you should bring documents in, but doesn’t indicate a specific month, date or year in the answer box, then you have not gotten any correspondence from us, but you will be contacted going forward."

This is all happening because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the Maryland MVA in October 2017 that all drivers who had the REAL ID star would need to have scanned documents on file.

Prior to that date, Maryland hadn't been requiring those documents in a process that the DHS had said was compliant since 2009.

To speed up the process, residents can make an appointment online with the MVA, which will save you from long wait times for walk-ins. 

In short: if you're one of the 66,000 people who have received three emails from the MVA, make sure you bring in documents to be scanned by the MVA by June. If you're one of the 920,000 other people who have a REAL ID license but haven't received communications from the MVA, know that you'll be notified about your personal deadline sometime soon.

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