How to get a Massachusetts driver’s license online, buy Massachusetts REAL ID, replace Massachusetts driver’s license, buy fake MA ID card. It’s a new type of credential that the Massachusetts RMV will begin to issue again (after a pause during the Covid pandemic) in April 2021. Although it is not a federal identification card, it represents a new set of federal security standards that are being adopted across the country. (After the 9/11 attacks, national leaders agreed that we needed more secure, more consistent personal identity documents.) Some states are already in compliance with these new standards, and have already issued REAL ID cards to all appropriate residents. Other states, like Massachusetts, have received extensions to phase in the new standards by May 2023.
Going forward, the REAL ID will function as both a driver’s license and a federally-compliant ID card. It will have a gold star in the upper-right corner, indicating that it is an acceptable form of identification for entering government buildings or boarding domestic airplane flights.
If you prefer, you can still apply for/renew a standard Massachusetts driver’s license or ID card—even after 2023. And in fact, you may prefer to do this if you enjoy the convenience of being able to process your license online. (REAL IDs cannot be processed online; you must visit a Massachusetts RMV service center in person.) If you opt to skip the REAL ID, and you need to fly or enter certain government buildings after May 2023, you would need to carry your passport.
The Mass RMV put together this handy quiz to help you determine if you need to get a REAL ID now, later, or never. Basically, if you have a current passport and plan to maintain it (renew when necessary), you’re all set. The RMV doesn’t recommend banging down the door to get your new ID card (even though technically you can apply for one).
If however you don’t have a passport, and you do plan to fly, and your license is up for renewal soon, it might make sense to renew with an ID versus a traditional Massachusetts driver’s license.