Texas Tightens ID Rules

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 10:25am

Foreign identification cards will no longer be accepted for vehicle purchases.

Texans titling a vehicle in the state and first-time registrants will soon have to show identification, enhancing public safety and paving the way for a new automated system.

The identification requirements are a two-phase process designed to give Texans, tax assessor-collectors, and businesses an opportunity to become educated on the new procedure.

Beginning September 3 vehicle buyers can show any government photo identification if it includes a current photo, unique identification number, birth date, and expiration date.

On Sept. 1, 2013 and thereafter, the only acceptable government photo identification will be a:

State driver's license or identification certification issued by one of the U.S. states or territories
United States or foreign passport
United States military identification
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) identification
United States Department of Homeland Security identification-issued document
Identification issued under a U.S. Status of Forces Agreement
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services documentation

The policy change, however, could make it tougher for some people to get a vehicle registration in Texas.

The DMV will only accept foreign government IDs, like the Mexican Matricula Consular, through August 2013.

"That would allow the industry, auto dealers, the public, and our county tax assessor-collectors time to adjust to this new process," said Jeremiah Kuntz, the director of government and strategic information at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The change is not without concern from Texas counties.

Travis County could lose up to $100,000, or roughly 11 percent, of tax revenue from fewer vehicle purchases.

"Our concern when the Matricula Consular goes away in September 2013 is that people will be driving illegally on the road," said Travis County tax assessor-collector Tina Morton.

One independent car dealer in Austin wrote Travis County opposing the DMV's new mandate because 60 percent to 80 percent of their customers use the Matricula Consular as a form of identification to buy a vehicle.

Immigrant advocates want foreign IDs to be accepted for vehicle titles and driver's licenses.

"We know they're driving trucks, and working in construction and gardening," said Rebecca Bernhardt, a program director for Common Sense Immigration. "So, it's a little hypocritical to say, 'You can mow my lawn, but I don't want you to have the right to drive the truck to mow my lawn.'"

She hopes the Texas legislature will reconsider accepting foreign ID cards as a way to buy a vehicle before the grace period expires.

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