Guide Massachusetts Identification (ID) Requirements

To get a learner's permit, driver’s license, or Mass ID in Massachusetts, you’ll need to provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence, a Social Security number, and Massachusetts residency. Learn what documents you can use below.

You’ll also need to decide between a Standard driver’s license/ID and a REAL ID driver’s license/ID. REAL ID is a federal ID that you can use to fly within the United States or enter federal buildings. To get one, you’ll need to provide additional documentation and come into an RMV service center. Learn more about REAL ID and whether or not you need one below.

REAL ID or a Standard driver’s license/ID?

REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for IDs that was created in 2005 as a result of increased federal security measures after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

After October 1, 2020, you will need a REAL ID or a passport to fly within the United States or enter federal buildings.

Do I have a choice of driver license/ID types?

Whether you are getting a new driver's license/ID or renewing your existing credential, the first decision you’ll need to make is, Standard driver’s license/ID or REAL ID driver's license/ID?

Find out if REAL ID is right for you.

 

comparison image of a license with a REAL ID credential & a Standard license

What is a Standard driver's license/ID?

  • Is a valid driver’s license or identification card
  • Is not valid as a form of federal ID
  • Can be renewed online without going to the RMV
  • Is not acceptable form of identification to board a flight after October 1, 2020
  • Has “NOT FOR FEDERAL ID” displayed on the card

What is a REAL ID driver's license/ID?

  • Is a valid driver’s license or identification card
  • Is valid as a form of federal ID
  • Requires an in-person visit
  • Has a star displayed on the document to indicate that is a federally compliant card

Key Actions for REAL ID or a Standard driver’s license/ID?

Additional Resources for REAL ID or a Standard driver’s license/ID?

Start your application online

Get Ready Online! All driver's license and ID transactions can be started online to save time. Many can be completed online.

You can save time at an RMV Service Center by starting any driver's license or ID transaction online. You can even finish some online.

If you can’t finish online, at the end of the application you’ll get a summary of your application and a list of documents you’ll need to bring to an service center.

Use the RMV's Online Service Center to:

  • Find out what you need, including required documents, to complete transactions either online or in person
  • Check your eligibility for completely processing a transaction online and avoid going to the RMV
  • Complete many transactions online, and start other ones prior to visiting a service center
  • Save time and be successful in one trip when you need to visit an RMV location

 

Additional Resources for Start your application online

Required identification documentation: Overview

Once you’ve decided if you want a REAL ID or Standard driver’s license/ID, get the right documents together. You’ll need to prove your:

  • U.S. citizenship or lawful presence
  • Social Security number
  • Massachusetts residency

REAL ID applicants whose current name is different than what appears on lawful presence documents must also provide proof of a legal name change. You can use a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court document.

Learn more about required identification.

You can start any driver’s license or ID transaction online. Starting online means you'll spend less time at an RMV Service Center. 

Lawful presence documents

1 document from this group for either REAL ID or a Standard driver's license/ID.

Lawful presence means that you’re legally living in the United States according to federal immigration laws. All U.S. citizens and lawfully permanent residents have permanent lawful presence in the U.S. 

Non-U.S. citizens who are studying, working, or living temporarily in the U.S. may have temporary lawful presence that may vary in length.

For U.S. citizens, a valid, unexpired U.S. passport is sufficient proof of lawful presence. U.S. citizens may also provide a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate.

For permanent residents, a valid permanent resident card (green card) is enough.

For non-U.S. citizens, you need to provide valid, verifiable immigration documents as well as proof that you've been granted a legal stay in the U.S. for at least 12 months. Your license or ID will expire when your legal stay is over.

Whether you’re getting a REAL ID or a Standard driver's license/ID, you’ll need one of these:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card
    • If your U.S. passport was issued within the last six months, bring your certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate
  • Certified copy of a birth certificate filed with a State Office of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency in the individual's state of birth
    • A Puerto Rican birth certificate will only be accepted if it was issued on or after July 1, 2010. For more information on the Puerto Rican birth certificate law, visit the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration website. 
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) issued by the U.S. Department of State, Form FS-240, DS-1350, or FS-545
  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) issued by DHS or INS
  • Temporary I-551 stamp in foreign passport
  • Unexpired employment authorization document (EAD) issued by DHS, Form I-766, or Form I-688B
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a valid, unexpired U.S. visa affixed
    • A non-US passport must contain a current visa and be presented with an I-94 Record of Arrival and Departure, unless you have a Permanent Resident Card or other change in status. The I-94 can be either a paper version from U.S. Customs and Border Protection or a printout of an electronic version downloaded from their website.
    • For applicable customers who have a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) or Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019) documentation verifying the applicant's most recent admittance into the United States must be shown
  • Certificate of Citizenship, Form N-560, or Form N-561, issued by DHS
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Re-Entry Permit (I-327)
  • Refugee Travel Document (I-571)

Additional Resources for Lawful presence documents

Social Security Number (SSN) documents

1 document from this group for either REAL ID or a Standard driver's license/ID.

You must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN) to apply for any learner's permit, driver's license, or ID card. The RMV will validate the SSN you provide against computer records at the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you do not have an SSN, you may request an application for one by calling (800) 772-1213.

If you’re getting a Standard driver’s license/ID, you’ll only need to provide your valid SSN.

If you’re getting a REAL ID, you’ll need to bring 1 of the following documents displaying your 9-digit SSN:

  • SSN Card (cannot be laminated)
  • W-2 Form
  • SSA-1099 Form
  • Non-SSA-1099 Form
  • A pay stub with the applicant's name and full SSN on it
  • SSN Denial Notice with passport, visa, and I-94

If you do not have an SSN, you should apply for one at a Social Security office as soon as possible. If you are denied an SSN, you may still qualify for a Massachusetts driver's license or ID card if you can meet other identification requirements. However, to prove that you applied for an SSN, you must present the written denial notice the SSA provided you. The RMV requires your SSN or denial notice to confirm your identity and to maintain your license and driving records.

Additional Resources for Social Security Number (SSN) documents

Massachusetts residency documents

1 or 2 1 for a Standard driver's license/ID, 2 for a REAL ID

To prove Massachusetts residency, you’ll need a document showing your residential address. A P.O. Box isn’t acceptable. Neither is a document mailed “in care of.”

You’ll need 2 of these documents for a REAL ID. Standard driver's license/ID applicants need 1 of the following:

  • Massachusetts RMV-issued documents (can use one from the options below)
    • Current license, Massachusetts ID card, or learner’s permit (liquor ID not accepted)
    • RMV-issued correspondence dated within 60 days and received via U.S. mail (including license/registration reminders)
  • State/federal/municipal/city/town/county agency-issued documents
    • First class mail dated within 60 days
    • Current MA-issued professional license with photograph
    • Medicaid statement dated within 60 days
    • Current firearms card
    • Jury duty summons dated within 60 days
    • Court correspondence dated within 60 days
    • Property tax for current year
    • Excise tax for current year
  • Bills
    • Utility bill (electric, telephone, water, sewer, cable, satellite, heating) dated within 60 days
    • Credit card statement dated within 60 days
    • Medical/hospital statement dated within 60 days
    • Cell phone bill dated within 60 days
  • Lease or Mortgage
    • Current lease/mortgage or similar rental contract
  • Financial-related documents
    • Bank statement that contains images of cancelled personal checks dated within 60 days
    • W-2 wage and tax statement from immediate prior year
    • Current pension statement (401k, 457, SEP, etc.)
    • Current retirement statement
    • Pay stub dated within 60 days
    • Current SSA statement
    • Current installment loan contract (car loan)
  • School-issued documents
    • Official school transcript for current year
    • Official letter from school (proof of enrollment) dated within 60 days
    • Tuition bill for current year
    • Certified school record for current year
  • Insurance-related documents
    • Auto insurance policy for current year
    • Renter's insurance policy for current year
    • Homeowner's insurance policy for current year
  • Alternative Residency Affidavit
    • For applicants under 18 only

 

Additional Resources for Massachusetts residency documents

Other acceptable forms of federal ID for flights

You may also use an active passport, passport card, or even a Global Entry card to fly domestically. You’ll also be able to use these TSA-approved documents to get through airport security:

  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo IDs
  • Transportation worker identification credentials
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner credentials

Additional Resources for Other acceptable forms of federal ID for flights

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