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Can you fly with a Kentucky ID?
Kentucky will be getting new IDs in 2019. Here’s what you need to know.

Kentucky’s Real ID rollout is continuing as it nears a 2021 federal deadline.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet previously announced that it will establish regional offices run by the state for Kentuckians to obtain their federally mandated Real IDs.

A current license is valid at airports until October when Kentucky’s extension on complying with the Real ID Act — a post-9/11 security measure— expires. Then residents must get a new ID. 

“It’s going to be one of the most secure credentials in the nation,” Matt Henderson, the state’s former Department of Vehicle Regulation Commissioner, previously told the Courier Journal. “We’re making your identifications more secure.”

Matthew Cole, the state’s commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Regulation, said on Thursday that as of March 2021, over 100,000 Kentuckians have received their new Real ID.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new ID cards, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. 

What do I need to bring with me to get a new ID? 

First-time applicants: If you’re requesting a new standard driver’s license, you must present one proof of identity (i.e., a birth certificate, passport or permanent resident card), proof of Social Security (i.e., Social Security card) and one proof of residency (i.e., a utility bill or lease). A birth certificate must always serve as the proof of identity for applicants under 18.

To renew a standard license or personal ID: Applicants only need to surrender

their current credential. Personal identification cards require the same verification

documents as a license. Non-U.S. citizens may apply for any standard credential.

To get a Real ID (previously known as a “voluntary travel ID”) license for travel: A Real ID license has the same requirements as first-time applicants, except applicants must provide two documents showing proof of residency instead of one. 

We answer your questions about the new Kentucky travel ID
Starting next year, Kentucky is rolling out new driver’s licenses and a new voluntary travel ID that can be used to fly domestically.
Jeff Faughender, Louisville Courier Journal

Where do I go to get a new ID?

Residents will have to go to one of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s regional facilities to get a Real ID. Currently, 15 regional facilities are open.

The regional offices are in several cities, including:

The locations that have since opened can be found at

Some walk-in appointments are allowed, but officials said scheduling an appointment in advance through the KYTC website is preferred.

Henderson previously said the the cabinet may expand to 28 to 30 regional office locations. He estimated that the cost of this expansion to 28 offices would be about $16 million, though revenue from issuing the new cards under the program may cover those costs.

As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine points to a hopeful end to the pandemic, state officials said the regional offices continue to ramp up their in-person capacity but are still not at 100%.

Where are the Real ID offices in Louisville?

Two Real ID offices are  open in Louisville, though appointment times have been hard for many residents to come by as spots fill up quickly.

One office is near Bowman Field at 3545 Roger E. Schupp St., and the Hurstbourne office is at 9112 Leesgate Road.

Both offices are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Appointments for the Bowman Field location can be made by visiting

If you’ve noticed no available appointment times, then stay patient. A KYTC spokeswoman told The Courier Journal that more dates will open up.

Have these regional offices always been in the plans?

Not exactly. Previously, the cabinet had planned for a county-by-county rollout for the Real IDs, even launching two pilot programs in Franklin and Woodford counties.

But in a Sept. 6, 2019, letter obtained by The Courier Journal and sent to the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks and the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, then-Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas said Kentucky would halt the program due to “significant unforeseen workload and staffing issues” and move to a regional model.

“This is not a sustainable long-term model if the state wants to provide adequate service to the public in its issuance of driver’s licenses and maintain its distinguished court services,” Thomas wrote.

While circuit court clerk offices in Kentucky currently issue the standard IDs, but not the Real ID, state officials said the plan is to have just KYTC and not the circuit court clerks handle all of the identification processes by summer of 2022.

After I get the new ID, how long is it valid?

Previously, Kentucky drivers had to renew their license every four years, unless they moved addresses. Those who apply for a Real ID will have the option to choose between a 4-year or 8-year credential.

The exception, according to KYTC, are commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), which are only available in an eight-year version.

How much will new IDs cost? 

Here are the new licenses and their corresponding prices. The prices are for licenses that are valid for eight years. Licenses valid for four years cost half as much.

What are the similarities between a new credentialed ID and a Real ID?

Both standard credentials and Real IDs are acceptable to:

The Real ID will allow you to fly domestically without a passport.

What is Real ID? 

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. It was issued as a security measure Post-9/11. 

In October 2021, 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.

Kentucky residents can still request and acquire a Real ID after the Oct. 1 deadline, according to state officials.

What if I fly a lot? Which ID should I get? 

You should obtain the Real ID, unless you have a passport and prefer to use that every time you fly domestically. 

Mark Howell, a regional Transportation Security Administration spokesman, said getting the Real ID will help travelers avoid more “touchpoints” when moving through an airport during the pandemic.

That’s because travelers can put their Real ID into a machine at TSA checkpoints that processes their boarding pass information, removing the need to pull out additional documents and passes when flying, Howell said.

What if I just want to drive and don’t care to fly? 

The new standard credential ID will work for you. You can wait until you are within a six-month renewal window to get it.

Contact Ben Tobin at and 502-582-4181 or follow on Twitter @TobinBen. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: