Kentucky is advancing the process of issuing driver’s licenses and personal ID cards in an effort to improve the security of state-issued credentials and comply with federal standards. Upgrades are happening across the board to verify the identities of applicants, enhance security features of all driving and personal identification credentials and prevent the fraudulent use and reproduction of licenses and IDs. The 2005 REAL ID Act requires changes to state standards, procedures, and requirements for the issuance of driver's licenses and identification cards accepted by select federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration. On October 1, 2020, Kentucky’s standard licenses will no longer be accepted to board U.S. flights or enter restricted federal facilities, like military bases, nuclear power plants or the White House.
To provide Kentuckians with options to best suit their needs, through a statewide rollout starting in March 2019 and ending by May, all identity credentials will be available in one of two versions: a new standard credential or a new Voluntary Travel ID credential. Identity credentials include driver’s licenses (including commercial and motorcycle licenses), permits, and personal IDs. First-time cardholder applicants and those renewing a credential will choose either a standard or a Voluntary Travel ID version. Kentucky's new Voluntary Travel ID is a state-maintained, federally compliant credential that has all the benefits of a standard credential, plus it is accepted at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel and military base entry.
A phased, statewide rollout of the new credentials and changes will begin in early 2019 and be complete by spring. Once available in your county of residence, Kentuckians do not need to replace their current credential unless they are within six months of their card's expiration date, they need to update their card due to a name, address, or gender change, or their current card expires after October 1, 2020 and they would like a Voluntary Travel ID. All Kentucky driver’s licenses and personal IDs will include the following changes:
- New Security, New Look: All credentials will have a new look to house the latest, state-of-the-art security features that will make Kentucky cards among the most secure in the nation.
- Arrive In The Mail: Residents will continue to visit the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in their county of residence to apply for a new credential. The requested credential will arrive in the mail at the address provided by the applicant 5-10 business days later. Applicants will leave the Circuit Court Clerk’s office with a 30-day temporary printed document until the requested credential arrives in the mail.
- Extended Shelf-Life: For the first four years of the new issuance process, non-CDL applicants and applicants over age 21 can choose between a four-year or eight-year credential. Starting spring 2023, all applicants will receive an eight-year credential. CDL credentials will be offered in eight-year renewal cycles only.
- Optional Travel License: A Voluntary Travel ID credential offers all of the benefits of a standard credential, plus they are federally acceptable to board U.S. domestic flights and enter federally restricted facilities once federal enforcement begins on October 1, 2020.
- New Pricing: The cost of all credentials will change to account for the extended renewal cycle and additional security improvements.
- More Engagement, Upgraded Equipment: Expect a more interactive experience at your local Circuit Court Clerk’s office. Applicants will verify their personal information, such as their current address and the spelling of their names, using touchpads and all locations will receive modern equipment to quickly process required documentation.
Both standard credentials and Voluntary Travel 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;
- Access health or life preserving services (including 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;
- Operate a vehicle;
- Vote or register to vote
Voluntary Travel IDs are acceptable to:
- Pass through airport security checkpoints to board U.S. commercial flights;
- Access federally restricted facilities, like military bases, nuclear power plants, federal agencies (like the FBI) and the White House
What’s staying the same?
- As long as Kentucky has an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through October 1, 2020, residents may continue to use standard licenses for domestic air travel and federal facility entry. Kentucky's current extension expires August 1, 2019 but the state expects to maintain extensions until Real ID enforcement begins October 1, 2020.
- Residents will continue to visit Circuit Court Clerk’s offices to apply for a new standard credential (driver’s license, permit, personal ID) or Voluntary Travel ID.
- All driver’s license permits will remain valid for three years.
- Applicant may only renew their current credential within six months of the expiration date.
- 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.
- Applicants can still donate to Trust for Life or register to be an organ and tissue donor when applying for a new credential at a local Circuit Court Clerk’s office.