Smoothing way to license renewal

Posted Oct. 11, 2011, at 5:09 p.m.

BANGOR — We all want to get through the period of driver’s license renewal (it’s called a birthday), as smoothly as possible.

This time around, you’ll need two documents for the trip to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, even if you’ve had a Maine license for years.

The easy part is probably proof of Maine residence — an electric bill, water bill, telephone bill, cable TV or satellite TV bill, lease, deed, tax return or paycheck stub, for example.

More elusive may be proof that you are a United States citizen or have a legal presence here.

The usual document is a certified, signed, sealed birth certificate; a certified photocopy or certified abstract — not a plain photocopy or certificate from the hospital. The seal is that “circle of wrinkles” down in the lefthand corner that you can’t usually read.

A passport will do, or a certificate of naturalization. Non-citizens may use a permanent resident card or resident alien card.

I, the family genealogist, could not find my certified birth certificate. I could have sent to Augusta or town of my birth, but with my license already a few days past due, I thought it time to get the show on the road, so to speak. During a visit with my mom, I wrote down specifically what I needed and asked her to stop by the appropriate town office.

When I got home, I remembered to call and tell her the rest, which mothers have been hearing for years: “I forgot to give you money, but I’ll send it to you later. And could you mail the birth certificate, right away?”

She did, and I received the temporary sticker on my license that will do until the new one comes in the mail.

If your renewal was triggered by your birthday, you may have received a postcard reminder in the mail, but you don’t need to bring that with you. I do suggest bringing your current or most recent driver’s license, whether from Maine or somewhere else.

I took the necessary documents to the BMV at the Airport Mall in Bangor at 11 a.m. on a weekday. My wait was just a half-hour, but I make no promises.

If you previously have provided documentation proving residency in Maine and legal presence in the U.S., you may be able to save a trip by renewing your driver’s license online.

Secretary of State Charles E. Summers Jr. has announced that the military and veteran driver’s license designation is available at all BMV locations. The license itself, which is mailed from Augusta, features a Field of Stars backdrop for the ID photo.

Applicants for that designation must be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces; or provide verification of honorable discharge from the U.S. military (DD Form 214), a certification from the U.S. Veterans Administration or other branch of the U.S. Armed Forces verifying service and honorable discharge.

For more information on driver’s licenses, visit http://www.maine.gov/bmv/dlr/ or call 624-9000.

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