Passport requests up as REAL ID deadline nears

Posted:  Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 7:30am
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With the REAL ID extension for Mainers set to expire Oct. 10, Lincoln County Registry of Probate has had a significant increase in U.S. passport applications.

The demand has been increasing as the October deadline nears. In May, the registry received 17 applications. By August, the number more than doubled to 38.

Register of Probate Catherine Moore said that at one point late summer, 26 applications were received in two weeks. Three quarters of those were from people concerned about REAL ID, according to Deputy Register of Probate Jeannine Clark.

The apparent cause for concern is the REAL ID Act of 2005’s requirements for driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards used by anyone entering a federal building or boarding a domestic flight. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website, 17 states are not currently compliant. For more, visit https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

The Maine driver’s license has not complied and the state has needed an extension from the Department of Homeland Security so Mainers can use their driver’s licenses to board domestic flights. The current extension expires Oct. 10, leaving traveling Mainers wondering about boarding a flight after that.

Moore said that in recent weeks more Mainers applying for passports are asking to have the processing expedited. The typical time to receive a U.S. passport with standard processing is four to six weeks, according to Moore. Expedited processing by the U.S. State Department comes at an increased price of $60 and will produce a passport in two to three weeks.

The expiration date may not be as much of a cause for concern as Mainers believe. According to Kristen Muszynski, spokesperson for Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a request for another extension to October 2019 was submitted to the Department of Homeland Security in early August.

Muszynski said the office “feels confident” the extension will be granted. Starting July 2019, compliant driver’s licenses will begin to be issued, she said.

A DHS official clarified about the Maine REAL ID. A grace period is in place until January 22, 2019. So if DHS has not notified the state of a new extension by Oct. 10, or if DHS does not grant the state another extension, Maine residents can still use their “state-issued ID” during the grace period.

The DHS official also reminded Mainers that the October 2020 deadline is the final one and it’s important for Maine citizens to know they will have the option to get the new ID’s within the next year or so.

Moore strongly encouraged travelers to come in and apply for a passport or passport card. The office’s hours for accepting applications are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Appointments for other times can be made at 882-7392. Besides the completed application form, citizens must provide proof of citizenship, proof of identity and a recent photograph. The registry can take photographs for applicants for $10.