Illegal Immigrants Started Md. Driver's License Process Monday


ANNAPOLIS—Illegal immigrants were able to begin the process to get a Maryland driver’s license on Monday, Nov. 4, according to Philip Dacey, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

The first step is to schedule an appointment to get a driver’s license in January, Dacey said.

Under the Maryland Highway Safety Act, passed in early April, those residents who live in the state illegally are now eligible for a license, effective Jan. 1, 2014, that cannot be used for federal purposes like boarding a plane or entering a government building, Dacey said.

The “second-tier license”—part of a two-tier licensing system that makes Maryland the only state on the East Coast to issue licenses to illegal immigrants—gives drivers the same rights on the road as a regular license, but cannot be used as identification. The words “Not Acceptable for Federal Purposes” is written across the top.

The qualification requirements for obtaining the license are also different.

In the case of a person who does not currently have a license, an identification card, or a moped operator’s permit, the applicant must provide evidence that he or she filed a Maryland income tax return or has been claimed as a dependent by someone who has filed a Maryland income tax return for the past two years, according to the law.

For documentation that a resident has paid two years of taxes or is a dependent, people can go to the Comptroller of Maryland office or website according to Dacey.

Additionally, an applicant must show proof of age, name and identity, and proof of Maryland residency, Dacey said.

“We’re emphasizing for folks to pay their Maryland taxes and get with the comptroller’s office sooner rather than later before tax season rolls around and the office is swamped with business,” said Kathy Dempsey, spokeswoman for the Maryland Catholic Conference, an organization that advocates for public policy issues and was a lead proponent of the legislation.

Other organizations including Casa De Maryland, the leading immigrant advocacy group in Maryland, the ACLU of Maryland and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration are also raising awareness of the new law.

“We’re going to reach out to this population that will be interested in acquiring the second-tier product,” said Buel Young, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. “We’re in the process of developing brochures and radio ads, and things like that.”

The vehicle administration is expecting to issue about 135,000 learner’s permits and driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants between fiscal years 2014 and 2018.

“It becomes a safety concern when individuals are not properly licensed,” Young said. “When someone has a license we know that they have met the minimum requirements to operate a vehicle in the state of Maryland…they have to go through driver’s education school and they are still required like anyone else to get a learner’s permit.”

If a person without a license who is over age 25 applies once the law goes into effect in January, that person could get a learner’s permit immediately and have a license within two months.

Someone below age 25 without a license could get a learner’s permit immediately and a license within 10 months.

“Maryland has a very large immigrant population and changes like this law are very important for these people to live normal and fulfilling lives,” said Sirine Shebaya, an attorney directing the ACLU of Maryland’s immigrant’s rights work. “Now these people can drive their kids to school and not have to worry about being arrested.”

Official Press Release from the Md. MVA: Maryland Joins Seven States in Enhancing Roadway Safety by Offering Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants

Maryland Highway Safety Act of 2013 takes effect January 1st; Appointments for January 2nd now being accepted

GLEN BURNIE, MD (November 5, 2013) – Working to enhance highway safety by ensuring only qualified drivers are on the roads, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) today announced that it is scheduling appointments for undocumented immigrants who wish to apply for a non-REAL ID* compliant driver’s license or identification (ID) card. Appointments can only be made online at, with the first appointment available on January 2, 2014. The new process is made possible by the passage of the Maryland Highway Safety Act of 2013.

“Thanks to the leadership of our elected officials in passing the Maryland Highway Safety Act, we can strengthen our roadway safety efforts by ensuring that only qualified drivers are on the road,” said John Kuo, MVA Administrator. “It is important for every driver to understand the rules of the road and become licensed because safety is the MVA’s number one priority on Maryland roadways.”

The new law clears the way for applicants presenting foreign documentation, without valid accompanying United States Citizenship and Immigration Services documentation, to obtain a Maryland driver’s license or ID card. To apply for a Maryland driver’s license or ID card, applicants must:

1. Have or apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number through the Internal Revenue Service;

2. Obtain a letter from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office stating you have filed Maryland Income Taxes for the preceding 2 years (these steps must be completed before you can come to the MVA). For more information on MVA tax certifications, customers may go to the Comptroller’s website:;

3. Apply for and obtain identity documents such as a valid, current foreign passport; and

4. Obtain two residency documents such as copies of a residential lease, utility bill, or bank statement to prove you are a resident of Maryland.

Once an applicant has completed these four steps they must schedule an appointment to apply for a Maryland driver’s license or ID card through the online appointment process at

The MVA also recommends that applicants read the Maryland Driver’s Manual and then take the Online Driver Test Tutorial to prepare for the driver knowledge test, which all applicants must pass. Also, review the MVA’s Driver Test Video and its step by step instructions for actually taking the knowledge test and on-the-road test. The Online Driver Test Tutorial and Driver Test Video are located on the MVA’s website at

The MVA warns all applicants that any person offering to assist in obtaining a driver’s license or ID card in exchange for money does not work for the MVA. If you are solicited for money for this service, report the incident by calling the MVA’s Integrity Hotline at 1-800-296-4709. Use extreme caution in working with any third party.


*The Real ID Act is a federal law that requires state drivers' licenses and non-driver identification (ID) cards meet certain minimum standards. The cards are accepted for federal purposes, such as access to federal facilities, boarding commercial aircraft, or other secure federal facilities designated by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Those with non- Real ID compliant driver’s licenses or identification cards that do not meet the federal standards may find it harder to use for federal purposes.

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