Kentucky reaches milestone of 50,000 REAL ID-compliant licenses issued


The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has reached the 50,000 mark in number of REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards issued, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Applicants increasingly are choosing the more secure credential ahead of a federal deadline for having verified identification for access to certain installations and activities. REAL ID licenses and IDs are issued only at KYTC Regional Driver Licensing offices.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, verified identification such as REAL ID licenses and IDs will be required for boarding domestic commercial flights and entering military bases and secure federal installations.  

“Kentucky will continue to issue standard driver’s licenses and IDs,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “At no time will anyone be required to switch to a REAL ID license in order to drive. But the REAL ID is the state of the art in secure personal identification.”

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray noted that the 50,000 mark likely would have been reached sooner if not for the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our offices have been operating at reduced capacity because of the social distancing necessary for protecting the health of our customers and staff,” Gray said. “Fifty thousand is a milestone, but we believe that number will grow exponentially as Kentuckians learn of the advantages of REAL ID, and access increases.

“We have a long way to go to both catch up on expired credentials and get Kentuckians REAL IDs, but this milestone is impressive. It’s only been possible because of our Driver Licensing professionals, who have performed remarkably to keep delivering in-person services while keeping citizens and their team members safe from COVID-19,” Gray said.

Kentucky has about 3.6 million operator licenses and state ID cards in effect at any given time. The cabinet estimates that about a third of that total, about 1.2 million, will eventually be REAL IDs.

KYTC Regional Driver Licensing offices are now open in eight Kentucky cities: Paducah, Madisonville, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Lexington, Somerset, Morehead and Prestonsburg. Two more regional offices are scheduled to open this month in Columbia and Jackson. There also are temporary offices, offering limited services strictly by appointment only, in Owensboro, Bowling Green, Louisville, Florence and Catlettsburg. The cabinet expects to eventually have a network of 20 or more offices around Kentucky.

Appointments are strongly encouraged at the regional offices and can be made here. Walk-in customers are accepted, but planning ahead and making an appointment makes for a short wait. Not sure what documentation you need to bring? Click here to find out, and avoid a wasted trip.

KYTC is opening or reopening regional offices as conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic permit. All offices adhere to Beshear’s Healthy at Work guidelines, which can be found here. They include the wearing of masks and maintaining at least 6 feet of space between individuals. In addition, work stations and touch pads are sanitized before every customer’s use.

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