The Frederick County liquor board is taking a first step in allowing foreign passports as a form of identification at local bars.

Maryland state law does not require counties to accept passports and different counties have different policies, board administrator Kathy Vahle said.

State law states only that businesses “may accept” driver's license, identification card or a military ID card.

“It says that those are acceptable forms of identification, but it does not say that those are the only acceptable form,” said Linda Thall, a senior assistant county attorney.

Until Monday, Frederick County regulations required bars and stores that sell alcoholic beverages to only accept Maryland driver's licenses, state identification cards, a military ID, or an out-of-state ID card with a second form of identification.

Discussion about whether to allow foreign passports as a form of ID began last month after a formal complaint was filed by the boyfriend of a woman who was denied admission to a county bar. The complaint alleged age discrimination because the woman was told she looked too close to 21 to be allowed inside the bar.

Commissioner Rick Stup said he started researching the issue after he was appointed to the board in March 2013.

“I think from a proactive and pro-business and pro-tourism standpoint, that we should look at this option,” Stup said.

The board voted to interpret a portion of their current regulations to allow foreign passports as a form of ID with certain conditions. The passports must include a seal, photo ID and a Department of Homeland Security entrance stamp.

Other forms of ID, including a green card, will not be accepted for now.

A bar or store will still have discretion as to whether a passport is acceptable ID, Stup said.

The board will post information for license holders on its website and send out information through email, Vahle said.

To permanently amend the regulation, a public hearing will need to be held.

The board will monitor how the new policy is working during what is being considered a trial program.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(13) comments


Hilarious incompetents. None of these jerks add any value to anyone's life.


Literally no one knows in this god forsaken county what IDs they can and cannot take. US Passports/ Passport IDs aren't allowed for anything because the reasoning is they're "easy to forage" and "servers/ cashiers" can't find the DOB. If I can submit my passport for my I-9 I don't understand why I can't buy a beer with it.


So as I read the article: a foreign visitor over 21, here on a foreign passport with a US tourist visa cannot legally buy an alcoholic drink in Frederick County? Silly does not cut it. About time the FC liquor board conducted a self examination of its rules and regulations. They are antiquated.


That's exactly it. And when you consider how close we are to a major tourist destination, this rule is all the more mind-bafflling.


U.S. Passport ok, others no.


US passports aren't accepted in Frederick County.


This is not isolated to Maryland or Frederick County. When I was trying to transfer my driver's license to another state, I called the DMV and asked if I could use my passport as a form of ID. My reasoning was simple: my passport was not buried in a file somewhere and my passport was a little more thoughtfully constructed than my birth certificate, which is an "official" looking piece of paper that wouldn't take much to forge. I was told, no, a passport was not acceptable. As it turned out, the DMV just looked at my previous license and transferred it over without any corroborating ID.


As I read this, Frederick County is in a situation similar to New Hampshire which does not currently accept driver's licenses from the District of Columbia because it is not a state. If this article is citing the legal forms of ID correctly, the DC (and other US territories) IDs would be excluded.


if its a legal binding foreign passport, you have to accept it anyway, why pass an ordinance.


Well, my wife who is a permanent resident, only had a permanent resident (green card) as a form of ID and no place downtown would accept her entrance into their facility. I never understood why because it is a federally-issued identification. I realize this article only states passports, but what about permanent resident green cards? Why is this not an acceptable form?


because with a green card, you must have a 2nd form to show.


And furthermore, where is her passport?


After a person is issued their permanent resident card they become Lawful permanent Residents (LPR) of the US and they no longer have to carry their passport with them, all they need is that card. You do not need two forms of ID. I suggest you check out if you have any questions about immigration to the US,

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