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New Kentucky Driver's Licenses Are Coming: Here's How To Prepare

kentucky driver's license
State of Kentucky

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says now is a good time to start thinking about what documents you'll need once the state starts rolling out new REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses early next year.

"Prepare early," says the cabinet's Jordan Smith. "Right now is a great time because a lot of people are traveling for the holiday season in the next couple of months and you've got your license out and you're looking at it, so take the time while you're thinking about it and figure out which credential type you'll want and what documents you'll need."

There are two types of licenses: a standard license or a voluntary travel ID.

The voluntary travel ID is what you'll need to fly domestically without a passport or gain access to a military base. If you don't plan to do either of those things, a standard license may be all you need.

Both license types can be used to vote. 

You can renew your ID up to six months in advance of your expiration date. However, the commonwealth is staggering the rollout of the new technology, so check with your Circuit Court Clerk before renewing early.

What Documents Will I Need?

You'll need a host of documents in order to get a first-time standard license or a voluntary travel ID. 

They include:

  • documentation proving identity such as a certified birth certificate, U.S. passport or Permanent Resident Card.
  • documentation proving social security number such as a social security card or W-2 form.
  • proof of residency such as a utility bill or lease. You'll need two proofs for a voluntary travel ID.

That's four total documents for the voluntary travel id.
You'll find a full list of acceptable documents here.There are a lot of options, so review the list carefully. There are options, such as a notaritzed letter, that take into consideration that some people may not have bills in their names.

To renew a standard driver's license or personal ID if there are no changes regarding personal information:

  • applicants will only need to surrender their current license and take a new photo. Personal identification cards require the same verification documents as a license.

Still uncertain? The Kentucky Transportation is offering this online tool to help you figure out what documents you'll need.

The Names Must Be The Same

If your name has changed - for example, if you've gotten married - you'll need to make sure your legal documents match. Also, if you go by or use a different name on your bills - a middle name for example - you should get the bills changed to your formal name.

"The names that are on all of your proofs of identity, social security and residency need to match," Smith says. "That's one thing that hadn't been as consistent in years prior."

What If All The Bills Are In My Spouse's Name?

"A person is permitted to bring in a residency document in their spouse’s name combined with their marriage certificate for a valid proof," Smith says.

What Do I Need If I'm Under 21? Under 18?

There are various additional documents that people under 18 or under 21 may use to obtain licenses. For example, a parent or legal guardian form or a school compliance verification form.  Click here for those lists.

What If I Need To Replace A Document?

From the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet:

"A certified copy of a birth certificate can be acquired by contacting the vital statistics agency in the state of your birth. Those born in Kentucky may contact the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics. To request a replacement Social Security card, visit the Social Security Administration's website."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.