Kentucky voluntary travel ID

Kentucky voluntary travel ID

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky will take a little longer to let its citizens know when new driver’s licenses will be available.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet had hoped to announce this fall when each county will begin to offer a license that also can be used for boarding commercial flights, and one that can’t.

But the schedule now won’t be made public until January, agency spokeswoman Naitore Djigbenou said Friday.

“Given the scope of a program redesign this massive and all the stakeholders involved, we have needed additional time to conduct testing, consider office layouts and develop a schedule that maximizes efficiency,” she said in an email.

Meanwhile, state officials encourage people to learn more about the new licenses and identification cards and which documents will be needed the next time they renew. In one of the biggest changes, drivers who want a license that works for airline travel must bring multiple forms of ID with them to their local circuit court clerk’s office.

In the past, drivers renewing their licenses simply had to turn in their expiring document and get a new photograph.

Kentucky plans to introduce two different credentials early next year in order to comply with a 2005 federal law passed in response to the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Under federal rules, Kentucky’s current license will no longer be a recognized ID in U.S. airports by fall 2020.

A “voluntary travel ID” is similar to the state’s current driver’s license, letting its holder drive, make age-limited purchases, board domestic flights and enter military posts.

A "standard driver's license" would let its holder drive, make purchases and enter federal buildings for basic services, but starting in October 2020 it won’t be accepted for air travel within the U.S. Instead, a passport or other federal ID would be needed.

Drivers will have to choose between the two. The credentials look alike, although the travel ID has a clear star on the front. The standard ID says "NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES" on its front.

Kentucky will be shifting production of all cards from the state’s 120 circuit court clerks to Idemia Identity & Security USA of Massachusetts. State officials won’t say where the credentials will be manufactured.

The changes also will mean new duties for the state’s circuit court clerks, such as scanning multiple documents.

In Louisville, Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson’s office handles an estimated 15,000 license renewals and other transactions each month at its six branches. Nicholson told WDRB News in August that the new process will likely add about five minutes to the average wait time.

Kevin A. Connell, Nicholson’s chief of staff, said in a statement Friday that his office and others involved in the project understood that the timetable of the rollout was fluid, but he noted that the state transportation cabinet ultimately is in charge.

“We will be ready to process the new licenses when the KYTC provides the equipment and necessary training for our employees,” he said.

Knox County Circuit Court Clerk Greg Helton, president of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks, said the statewide rollout of the new licensing system is complex and will be time-consuming.   

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to serve the citizens of the commonwealth,” he said in a phone interview Friday. But, he added: “It’s more complicated, I think, than everyone thought.”

Helton also predicted that once citizens realize they need additional documents to get the travel license, there will be a rush to apply for social security cards and other IDs.

“If you don’t have a birth certificate or social security card, start applying for it,” he said.

The two-tiered ID system is a result of legislation passed in 2017 to bring Kentucky into compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005. A bill passed the previous year but ultimately vetoed by Gov. Matt Bevin would have created just one license.


Drivers who want to stick with the standard driver's license will need to simply turn in their existing license and take a photo. But people applying for the standard license for the first time will need to provide multiple identity documents.

Kentucky also is doubling the lifespan of both licenses, from four to eight years. The standard license that won’t provide aircraft access will cost $43, up from the $20 now charged for a four-year license. The travel IDs will cost $48 for eight years.

Through 2023, Kentucky will offer a half-priced, four-year version of both of the new types of driver’s licenses.

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825,, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.

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Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation and local and state government.