Maine is getting more time to comply with federal rules on driver’s licenses and other identification cards required for entry into federal buildings, military bases and nuclear power plants.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said federal officials have agreed to extend the deadline for those using a Maine identification card to enter those facilities until Oct. 10, 2017. Maine is not yet compliant with the federal law’s requirements for identification.

The law requiring Real ID-compliant identification for entry into federal facilities went into effect in January and Pingree’s office said she didn’t know if any Mainers had been denied entry into those buildings since then. The Department of Homeland Security has said it will step up enforcement of the requirement in July, so the extension means those with Maine IDs won’t need to worry about having identification that meets the new rules until October.

The deadline for compliance with Real ID requirements for boarding commercial aircraft remains Jan. 22, 2018, although it’s possible that deadline may be extended too, because the state this year agreed to conform to the Real ID law.

Homeland Security has granted repeated extensions to other states that have agreed to follow the federal requirements, because it can take years until the new licenses and other IDs are ready to be issued.

The Real ID Act requires states to introduce new driver’s licenses that include fingerprints and technology that will allow photographs on them to be used with facial recognition software. It also requires states to keep scans of official documents, such as birth certificates.


It was adopted in 2005, based on a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

Maine was one of only five states that has been completely out of compliance with the law. After years of resistance, the Maine Legislature this spring ordered the Secretary of State’s Office to begin designing new driver’s licenses and state identification cards that comply with the Real ID requirements.

Residents can still individually opt out of receiving Real ID-compliant cards, but they would then need other forms of identification, such as a passport, to get into federal facilities or fly on commercial planes.

Kristen Muszynski, spokeswoman for the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, said the law Maine passed this year requires Real ID-compliant licenses and state identification cards to be issued by July 2019. She said the state needs to provide additional training for its staff, conduct background checks of workers and make some technological changes, such as additional computer storage space for the documents.

It’s possible the state will be ready ahead of that deadline, Muszynski said.

In the meantime, Maine is likely to see additional extensions and waivers from federal officials as it works toward compliance, Muszynski said.


Opponents of the Real ID law argued that the requirements put personal data at risk and would have little impact on fighting terrorism or dealing with illegal immigration.

But legislators changed their minds when faced with the prospect of Mainers needing additional forms of identification to fly or enter government facilities. Gov. Paul LePage, who had previously opposed having the state comply with the requirements of the Real ID Act, signed the bill in April.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at:

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