Mass RMV ID requirements
January 15, 2014 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm worried about my ability to prove residency in Massachusetts to convert my out-of-state license. (In particular, the fact that no photocopies are allowed.)

My out-of-state license is expiring in a month and I've decided to take this opportunity to switch to a Massachusetts license.

Here's the list (PDF) of acceptable documents, where it's clearly stated that photocopies are not acceptable. I'd be able to provide a lease, credit card statement or bank statement, but they're all PDF documents. I don't get any bills via snail mail -- I could print out the PDFs -- and my lease PDF is actually just a scan of the original with signatures. I'm worried that these documents will all be rejected for being "photocopies."

I'll have my out-of-state license and passport to prove DOB and signature.

Has anyone ever had trouble proving residency with PDF/print-out documents? If these wouldn't work, can I ask my bank (which has branches in MA) to send me some sort of document to prove I live here? On second thought, would getting new preprinted checks ($15 cost) be the easiest way to deal with this?
posted by andrewesque to Law & Government (11 answers total)
Response by poster: If relevant: I am a graduate student living (off-campus, in an apartment) in Cambridge, and I would be going to the RMV branch in Boston.
posted by andrewesque at 8:13 PM on January 15, 2014

Original letter issued and signed by the principal, headmaster, or official
keeper of the records of a MA school (including a college or university)
on school’s letterhead that states the applicant is currently a resident
student and includes the name and date of birth (dated within 12 months
of application)
Shouldn't that do it? There must be a school office that can do this.
posted by mkb at 8:14 PM on January 15, 2014

Yep, go to the registrar's/transcript office; they do proof of enrollment letters all the time.
posted by Madamina at 8:15 PM on January 15, 2014

Response by poster: I was thinking about doing that -- does it matter if you live off-campus? I know they have my address on file somewhere but I didn't know if that applied only to students who lived in a dorm or university housing.
posted by andrewesque at 4:44 AM on January 16, 2014

I've lived in Cambridge for a decade. Every time I've had to prove residence to the government (at least once yearly), I've used PDFs/printouts and I've never had a problem. I think they get that it's just how things work now.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:08 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also: Why are you going to the RMV in Boston? Go to the one in Watertown. Closer, less busy, easier to get to.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:09 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: NotMyselfRightNow: That's good to hear! I think I'll employ a strategy of just bringing as many residency documents as possible and hoping one sticks.

And despite renewing my driver's license, I don't actually have a car here. So I'd much rather take the T to Boston instead of the who-knows-when-it's-coming 70/70A buses to Watertown.
posted by andrewesque at 5:14 AM on January 16, 2014

You could also argue that a print out of a pdf is not a photocopy. Have the pdfs available to view on your phone while there.
posted by unreasonable at 6:14 AM on January 16, 2014

I was helping a friend out by having him live in a room in my house when I lived in MA. When his out-of-state registration expired, I wrote up a lease in Word to prove residency and printed it. This worked fine (Framingham RMV branch, I believe, but I don't remember), and he got an MA license and MA plates with no problems. A printout of a PDF should be OK.

Also seconding the Watertown RMV branch over the Boston one. Heck, if you've got a car and some time, drive out into the suburbs and use the Leominster or Framingham RMV branches, both of which I preferred to Watertown or Boston.

A caveat you may not be aware of. (If you don't have a car, this won't apply.) This took me by surprise when I moved to Massachusetts when I got the unexpected bill from the town -- MA charges property tax annually on vehicles, based on a percentage of the Blue Book value that depends on how old your car is. It's called "excise tax" and in your case it would be paid to the City of Cambridge. You won't get a bill until several months after you register the car, they don't tell you about it at the RMV, and it's NOT the sales tax that you'll pay at the time of registration. (You can deduct it from your income taxes if you itemize deductions.)
posted by tckma at 6:44 AM on January 16, 2014

I converted my license a few years ago in the Chinatown location. They were very helpful when I forgot some paperwork. Also, at 9am there was barely a line, but at 5pm it was an hour wait. If I had to go again, I'd go the very earliest in the day I could drag myself out of bed.
posted by contrarian at 7:36 AM on January 16, 2014

Response by poster: Carless (car-free?) here so no need for registration/tax payments or anything like that! And I'd probably prefer the outer branches but the time to get to Watertown, Framingham, or Leominster on transit and waiting for infrequent buses would far outstrip any time savings that I get from avoiding going to Boston (where I am also interning at the moment.)
posted by andrewesque at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2014

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