Confident Kentucky 

Frequently Asked Questions

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A license is more than a pass to drive – it’s how you prove who you are. Driver’s licenses are used for everything from signing a lease to making age-restricted purchases. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is enhancing the security of the credential you rely on most while offering options to keep you on the move.

In October 2021, standard licenses will no longer meet federal REAL ID requirements for Kentuckians to board U.S. flights or enter select federal facilities and military bases. By producing identity credentials at one secure location, Kentucky can offer a federally compliant credential for citizens who prefer the convenience of using a single, secure credential for access to federal facilities and other uses.

A REAL ID is a federally-compliant card that serves as a license/permit/personal ID and can be used to board commercial flights within the U.S., enter military bases and access federal buildings that require ID once REAL ID enforcement begins October 1, 2021. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and military bases accept other documentation, such as valid, unexpired passports and passport cards. Visit www.tsa.gov for a complete list of acceptable air travel documentation and contact the military base you plan to visit to learn what other credentials they will accept.

Current Kentucky licenses/permits/personal ID card versions may be used for domestic air travel and restricted federal facility entry until REAL ID enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2021.

No. An unexpired Kentucky driver’s license or personal ID card is accepted by the Transportation Security Administration to board commercial flights to all 50 states and U.S. territories until REAL ID enforcement begins October 1, 2021.

The REAL ID is optional and serves as one of many acceptable forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration and military bases. A REAL ID offers Kentuckians a single credential to use for multiple purposes, such as passing airport security checkpoints and verifying your identity for purchases. Until federal REAL ID enforcement begins October 1, 2021, current standard driver’s licenses offer the same benefits as a REAL ID. Beginning October 1, 2021, a standard driver’s licenses will not be accepted to board domestic flights or to enter restricted federal facilities.

Here is a list of IDs that fly:

  • Any Kentucky REAL ID driver’s license, permit or ID
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential (TWIC®)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

Check the Rollout Schedule page for updates on when the new cards will be available in regional locations. While we do our part, the most important thing you can do to save time and avoid repeat trips when applying for a REAL ID is to get prepared. To learn what required documents you need to update and gather now, take the IDocument Guide quiz or review a list of acceptable documents.

REAL IDs are available to Franklin and Woodford County residents at their local Circuit Court Clerk office due to the initial pilot county-by-county model the Cabinet used. Franklin County and Anderson County residents may visit the KYTC driver’s license office in Frankfort to apply for a REAL ID.

Standard credentials and REAL IDs are acceptable to:

  • Enter federal facilities, such as museums or a post office, that do not require a person to present identification;
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (includes Social Security office);
  • Access health or life preserving services (includes hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings);
  • Participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations (includes federal courthouses);
  • Operate a vehicle;
  • Vote or register to vote.

A standard credential cannot be used to board a U.S. flight once federal enforcement begins October 1, 2021 and it cannot be used to access restricted federal facilities (such as military bases, nuclear power plants and the White House).

Applicants requesting a new REAL ID or first-time standard driver’s license will need to present documentation proving identity (such as a certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or Permanent Resident Card), social security number (such as a social security card or W-2 form), and proof of residency (such as a utility bill or lease; two proofs required for a REAL ID).

To renew a standard driver’s license or personal ID, applicants will only need to surrender their current license and take a new photo at their local Circuit Court Clerk’s office. Personal identification cards require the same verification documents as a license. If you wish to obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate, contact the vital statistics agency in the state of your birth. Those born in Kentucky may contact the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics. To request a replacement Social Security card, visit the Social Security Administration's website.

If your current legal name, date of birth, or gender is different than what is displayed on your identity or lawful status document, you must present additional documentation, such as a marriage license or divorce decree. No hard copies of the documents presented during the application process will be kept. View our list of acceptable documents.​​

Many people change their names due to marriage, adoption, divorce or other reasons. In order to obtain a REAL ID or first-time standard credential, you must provide proof documents that show a direct link between your name changes. Those documents include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, legal name court order or valid U.S. Military ID card. If your name has changed due to marriage, you will need to request a new social security card that matches your current legal name before applying for a new credential.

For example, if your birth certificate displays your maiden name but your social security card displays your married name, you’ll need to bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate to link the documents. If you’ve lost your birth, marriage or divorce certificate, you will need to obtain a certified replacement copy. If you have a U.S. passport or passport card that matches your current legal name, you can use that document as proof of identity and legal presence, in place of a birth certificate.

If your present gender is different than what is listed on your identity document (such as a birth certificate or passport), you will need to present a court order changing gender marker or a letter from the surgeon that completed the gender reassignment.

If the birth date on your current license is not correct, you will need to present a birth certificate to ensure your new credential reflects the correct date.

To find out what additional documents you may need to provide, view our list of acceptable documents.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 410 in the spring of 2017 allowing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to issue REAL ID-compliant cards in 2019. Previous legislation prevented Kentucky from implementing the federal REAL ID Act. Offering REAL IDs is a lengthy process that typically takes two years to implement. A pilot program began in two counties in the summer of 2019 to monitor the performance of the new system. Due to workload and staffing concerns in Circuit Court Clerk offices, Kentucky has shifted from a county-by-county rollout model to a regional model where federally compliant REAL IDs will be issued by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet employees in offices in select counties. KYTC is finalizing details regarding where and when the new cards will be available. ​

REAL ID credentials will have new pricing to account for the longer shelf life and security improvements. A new eight-year REAL ID will be $48. Applicants who opt for four-year credentials during the first four years of implementation will pay half the cost. New pricing information is available.

A standard Kentucky motorcycle license will cost $43 and be valid for four (4) years. The Kentucky REAL ID motorcycle license is $43 and will be valid for eight (8) years. A combination motorcycle and operator standard license is $53 and $58 for a combination REAL ID. CDLs will be valid for eight (8) years and costs vary according to the type of CDL and different endorsement combinations. Please contact the Division of Driver Licensing CDL section for more details at (502) 564-1257.

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Your local Circuit Court Clerk's office will continue to serve as the location to make requests for standard licenses, permits, and IDs, which will be issued on-site. New regional licensing offices will issue REAL ID credentials. REAL ID licenses, permits, and IDs will be mailed to successful applicants and should be received within 10-15 business days. A 30-day temporary document will be issued on-site for use while you wait for your new credential to come in the mail.​​​​​​

The applicant should renew their license at the Circuit Court Clerk office in his or her county of residency prior to the expiration date. The applicant will surrender the existing license, pay $20, and will be issued a standard license that is valid for four (4) years. If the applicant chooses to apply for a new REAL ID before their new standard credential expires, they may do so by turning in their unexpired credential, bringing in the appropriate documentation and sitting for a new photo. The applicant will pay $15 to upgrade to a REAL ID that maintains their current credential's expiration date. Once an applicant is within six (6) months of their expiration date, they can renew their REAL ID credential. A standard license can be used to board a U.S. flight and enter federal buildings and military bases until federal enforcement begins October 1, 2021. If you would like to use a license for these purposes, you will need to apply for a new REAL ID prior to October 2021.

We’re maximizing convenience by extending the renewal cycle of licenses and personal IDs from a four-year to an eight-year lifespan. For the first four years of the new issuance system, non-CDL applicants and those over the age of 21 can choose between a four- or eight-year credential. Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) credentials will be valid for eight (8) years. Permits are valid for three (3) years and licenses issued to applicants under the age of 21 expire 90 days after the cardholder's 21st birthday.

Applicants will receive a 30-day temporary credential document from their local Circuit Court Clerk that is valid until the requested license or ID arrives in the mail. The applicant's current credential will be altered with a hole punch over the ghost portrait in the lower right corner, and returned to the applicant. TSA will accept the altered credential in conjunction with the temporary document, for official purposes until the requested card arrives in the mail. Fort Knox, Fort Campbell, Bluegrass Army Depot and the Kentucky Secretary of State will accept the temporary document without an altered credential for voting and entering the bases. It is at the discretion of a business, such as a financial institution, to accept a temporary document.

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After a name or address change, the applicant shall apply for an updated license within 10 days. The duplicate fee is $15.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.​

The physical cards contain the same security features. The main difference is related to access and documentation. As long as Kentucky is operating under an extension from the Department of Homeland Security, standard licenses will have the same benefits of a REAL ID to allow license holders access to board domestic flights and enter federal restricted facilities, such as military bases and nuclear power plants. On October 1, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security plans to stop issuing compliance extensions to states and the access a standard license provides will change.

Applicants requesting a REAL ID license or personal ID must provide one additional proof of residency and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will retain their birth certificate or U.S. passport electronically.

If your current license’s expiration date is within six (6) months of October 1, 2021, you can renew your license for another four- or eight-years when applying for a REAL ID. If your expiration date is dated April 1, 2021 or later, you can pay $15 for an ID that maintains your current credential's expiration date. For a list of other credentials accepted at airport security checkpoints, visit www.tsa.gov.​

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If the applicant is under the age of 18, he or she must present the required documentation for a standard or REAL ID (identity document, social security number, proof of residency*), plus the following documentation:

  • A parent or legal guardian form
  • A school compliance verification form
  • Cabinet for Health and Family Services Custody Verification Letter (only required for foster children)
  • *Proof of residency documents in the parent or legal guardian’s name are accepted if the applicant is under 18

No. Kentucky will maintain strict control over its driver’s license and personal ID card programs, and will only share information with law enforcement agencies for the specific purpose of criminal investigation.​

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Safer credentials begin with issuance. By verifying the identities of applicants and moving the production of credentials from over-the-counter to a central printing location, the overall security of our credentials is boosted. The new credentials contain nearly double the amount of security features than the current issue credentials. ​
Current standard licenses, permits and IDs will be accepted for these purposes through Sept. 30, 2021. Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, Kentuckians will need a REAL ID credential, or another federal form of identification (i.e. passport, passport card, permanent resident card), to board a commercial domestic flight, visit a military base or enter a federal building that requires identification.

If your requested credential has not arrived at the address on record after 15 business days, you may call the Division of Driver Licensing at (502) 564-1257.

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Kentucky’s new credentials are 100% laser engraved. A precision laser creates a grayscale image and renders a high-quality, high-resolution portrait with fine features and excellent gradation between light and dark areas. This leads to high-quality portraits that clearly and definitively represent the cardholder without the distortion and distraction of color.​