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.