The Department of Homeland Security has denied an extension of the state of Maine’s REAL ID Act compliance period, which will affect the use of Maine licenses and IDs for some identification purposes.

The DHS is implementing the final phase of the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed in 2005 that seeks to improve security standards for state-issued identification. The Maine Legislature has voted against opting in on several provisions of the REAL ID Act, so a law change would be necessary to authorize further implementation of the act to reach full compliance.

In a letter from the DHS dated Oct. 1, 2016, the department has denied the request for an additional extension, stating that Maine has “not provided adequate justification for continued noncompliance.”

Currently, Maine licenses and IDs are not acceptable identification for access to military bases, nuclear power plants and other federal facilities. The denial of this extension also means:

Beginning Jan. 30, 2017, federal agencies will no longer accept Maine licenses and IDs for official purposes.

As of Jan. 22, 2018, a Maine ID or license will no longer be accepted as identification to board a commercial aircraft. Travelers will have to provide an acceptable alternative form of identification, as listed on the DHS website.

As of Oct. 1, 2020, DHS will no longer grant extensions to any state, and every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.

REAL ID does not affect voting in any way. Maine does not require voters to provide identification at the polls, and Maine licenses will continue to be accepted for voter registration purposes. Additionally, REAL ID does not affect:

Entering federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification;

Applying for or receiving federal benefits;

Being licensed by a state to drive;

Accessing health or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings);

Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.