New 'standard' Kentucky driver's license

New 'standard' Kentucky driver's license 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky is nearing the end of its current system of issuing driver’s licenses. Below is a list of common questions and answers about what's going to be different, but it’s not exhaustive. For more, including the changes that affect children and non-native residents, go to

Q: Why is Kentucky changing its licenses?

A: All states and territories are required to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act, which Congress passed as a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. It set new standards for personal identification cards, such as driver’s licenses. The goal is to make it harder to counterfeit or forge documents.

Q: So what’s new?

A: To meet these requirements, Kentucky is creating two different types of driver’s licenses. Residents can choose one.

Q: Two types of licenses?

A: Yes.

The “voluntary travel ID,” or “Real ID,” essentially replaces the current driver’s license. You’ll be able to use it to drive, make alcohol and other age-controlled purchases, board domestic flights and enter Fort Knox and other military posts.

The other type, a "standard driver's license," still can be used for driving, purchases and entering federal buildings for essential services. But starting in October 2020, when the new standards go into effect, it won’t get you on a plane. Instead, you will need a passport or other federal ID.

The two credentials look similar, although the travel ID has a clear star on the front. The standard ID says "NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES" on its front.

Q: When will the new licenses be available?

A: The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is overseeing the program, and it hasn't yet announced when they'll be available statewide. Transportation Secretary Jim Gray says he expects all sites will be open by early summer.

For now, however, all Kentuckians can travel to Frankfort and apply for the Real IDs at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's headquarters, 200 Mero Street. And while state officials don't encourage it because of staffing concerns, they say no one will be turned away if they apply at any Real ID center in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s plan had been to let local circuit court clerks process applications for both licenses – just like they had for years. But in September 2019, the cabinet modified that plan. Now the ‘travel IDs’ will be handled by state-run ‘regional facilities.'

Plans now call for 12 regional offices to open sometime in 2020. The first wave targets Paducah, Madisonville, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington, Florence, Somerset, Manchester, Jackson, Prestonsburg and Morehead.

Ultimately, there could be as many as 30 offices across Kentucky. 

Circuit clerks will continue to issue licenses that aren’t Real ID-compliant.

Q: When will my current driver’s license not be an acceptable form of ID to board a plane at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport?

A: October 1, 2020. That’s when Kentucky officials expect the federal government, including the Transportation Security Administration, to begin requiring Real ID-compliant documents for boarding airplanes and other purposes.

That means a regular driver’s license – either your current one or the new ‘standard’ license – won’t get you on a plane.

Of course, regardless of what type of credential you get, you’ll still need a passport when taking international flights.

Q: I travel by commercial plane in the U.S. from time to time. Which of the new IDs should I choose?

A: The “travel ID” – unless you have a passport and don’t mind carrying it with you.

Q: It seems like the “voluntary travel ID” gives me all the benefits of my current driver’s license. Why the awkward name?

A: Kentucky officials say they chose that name to give people options and decide which credential is the best fit.

Q: Are there any changes to the process of getting my license?

A: Yes. In fact, this is the biggest change of all.

If you’re getting the travel ID, you’ll need to bring four documents with you to a yet-to-be-established regional center. You’ll need one (1) primary proof of identity, such as an original or certified birth certificate or passport; one (1) document that proves your social security number, such as an unlaminated social security card or W-2 wage statement from the current year; and two (2) proofs of your residence. A property tax bill, utility statement or lease agreement will suffice.

Here’s the full list of documents that qualify for the travel ID:

Q: What if I’m sticking with the standard driver’s license? Will I need to bring in those documents?

A: No, not if you’re renewing it. In that case, you’ll just need to turn in your current license and take a new photo.

But if it’s your first time applying for it or the travel ID, you’ll still need to bring the same documents you’d need for the travel ID – except only one (1) proof of residence will be needed.

Q: How much will these new IDs cost?

A: They’ll cost more – but they’ll last longer. The new credentials will be good for eight years, compared with the four-year lifespan now in place.

The travel ID will cost $48 for eight years. That amounts to $8 more than today’s driver’s license, which costs $20 for four years. The new eight-year “standard” driver’s license will cost $43.

There’s one other thing to keep in mind. Kentucky has decided that until spring 2023, it will offer a half-priced version of both credentials that are good for four years.

Q: I just renewed my license? Can I just upgrade it a voluntary travel ID?

A: Now that the circuit clerk approach has been scuttled, we don’t know.

Q: I’m a woman whose maiden name is on my birth certificate, but my married name is on my social security card and the documents that show where I live. Will those be accepted?

A: No. You’ll need to bring in a marriage certificate, for instance, to prove the name change. State officials stress that name and gender changes must be linked by marriage, divorce or other documents.

Also, they note, if you have a new married name, you will need to request a new social security card that matches that name before applying for a new driver’s license.

Q: How do I get a new social security card?

A: If you have one that is lost or laminated, you can apply online with the Social Security Administration. If you need to change the name on a card, you'll need to visit a local Social Security office in person.

Q: How do I get a certified birth certificate?

A: People should request certified copies of birth certificates from the public health agency in the state where they were born. In Kentucky, that would be the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics.

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825,, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.