Kentucky targets 2019 for ID card overhaul

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky plans to begin offering new driver’s licenses in January, part of a mandate to meet federal safety rules created after the 2001 terror attacks.

The changes mean that people must choose between a standard driver’s license and a “voluntary travel ID” card that serves as a driver’s license but also can be used to board domestic flights and enter military posts, authorities said Monday.

The new driver’s licenses – and the current ones -- will be accepted at airports until 2020. At that time, the travel ID or a passport must be used; a driver's license won't be valid.

“We wanted to provide a convenient option and an affordable option so citizens could board those planes and enter those military bases without having to purchase an expensive federal credential,” said Matt Henderson, Kentucky’s vehicle regulation commissioner.

Henderson and other Kentucky officials announced the start of a public relations campaign Monday called “Confident Kentucky,” reminding people to prepare for the changes. In some cases, Kentuckians will need to take more steps to receive the ID best suited for them.

To get the travel ID that can be used at airports and as a driver’s license, people must provide four documents to their local circuit clerk:

  • An identity document, such as a certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or permanent residence card
  • Proof of a social security number, such as a social security card or tax document
  • Two examples of proof of residency, such as a utility bill or lease

The same requirements apply for an initial application for a standard driver’s license -- even if someone has been driving for years – but only one proof of residency is needed.

That standard license still will let people access VA hospitals, social security offices, federal courthouses and “really any federal building that offers essential services,” Henderson said.

Other changes also are planned. Unlike the current system that allows people to get their new driver’s licenses the same day they apply, the new credentials will be mailed five to 10 days after they’re requested, officials said.

The new IDs can’t be expedited, but the state promises to provide temporary cards to cover any gap.

Kentucky also is doubling the lifespan of driver’s licenses, from four to eight years. They will cost $43, a slight increase from the $20 now charged for as four-year license.

The travel IDs will cost $48 for eight years.

Officials said people whose licenses expire after 2020 can pay $15 to upgrade to a travel ID that keeps the current license’s expiration date.

“It really is a big time change in the way we issue licenses,” said John Middleton, Kenton County Circuit Court Clerk and immediate past president of the state’s circuit court clerk association.

He encouraged Kentuckians to find out when their licenses expire and get documents, such as birth certificates or marriage licenses, in order now. Under the new rules in the state, people who have changed their name by marriage will have to get a new social security card that matches their current legal name.

“A little preparation now will pay off later when it’s time to visit your circuit clerk’s office,” Middleton said. “We know that time is valuable and won’t enjoy turning people away due to lack of documentation.”

The design of the new IDs hasn’t been publicly released, but they are scheduled to be available starting in January.

The changes were put forth in a bill that passed the Kentucky General Assembly in 2017. They are mandated by a 2005 federal law approved in response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Kentucky plans to begin producing the ID documents in one place, centralizing a system that now occurs in more than 140 places, Henderson said.

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.