The United States Postal Service said it made a mistake when it suggested in a news release Thursday that Maine residents “may need a passport” later this year to board domestic flights – a requirement it said was caused by passage of the Real ID law.

That is not accurate, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, which responded by saying Maine residents will actually have until Oct. 1, 2020, to register for a Real ID.

Although Maine’s latest Real ID waiver is valid through Oct. 1, 2019, the federal Department of Homeland Security recently informed the state that it won’t start enforcing Real ID requirements until Oct. 1, 2020.

“Thus, until Oct. 1, 2020, regular Maine driver’s licenses and IDs will be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes, such as entrance to federal facilities and boarding commercial aircraft,” Kristen Muszynski, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said in a statement.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said a letter from the Department of Homeland Security informed of the extension through Oct. 1, 2019.

The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of implementing the final phase of the Real ID Act, a federal laws passed in 2005. The law seeks to improve security standards for state-issued identification credentials.

Muszynski said the state expects to be able to offer Maine Real IDs by next July 1 so every one can get one by the federal deadline of October 2020.

Muszynski said her office was aware of the postal service news release, which announced expanded hours at its Biddeford office to accommodate people applying for passports. She said the Secretary of State’s Office would contact postal officials to clarify any confusion about the law.

“You know you need a passport for international travel. But did you know that because of the passage of the Real ID law, later this year Maine residents may need a passport to board domestic flights?” the news release stated. “With average processing times of 6 weeks or more, now is the time to start planning that summer vacation and Biddeford Post Office wants to make that easy with extended hours for passport processing.”

Steve Doherty, spokesman for the postal service’s Greater Boston and Northern New England Districts, apologized for the error, calling it a misunderstanding. Doherty said he thought Maine’s waiver expired Oct. 10.

Doherty said the postal service processed 5.2 million passports nationally in 2017, generating more than $166 million in revenue.

The Biddeford post office at 100 Alfred St. will remain open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for passport applications. Expanded hours will be in effect from Oct. 20 through Nov. 17.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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