Story by Ashley Traylor, News Editor
Story by Sabra Jackson, Staff writer
The REAL ID Act goes into effect starting in January 2018, but for those with a Kentucky driver’s license, that doesn’t mean you will have to reach for your passports just yet to board a domestic flight.
The Department of Homeland Security granted a one-year extension to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This will allow the state time to get in compliance with the federal act.
In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act which requires each state to meet certain standards when it comes to issuing licenses and other identification sources. Currently, Kentucky driver’s licenses do not meet those standards; however, the extension allows federal agencies to accept current identification cards including driver’s licenses until October 10, 2018.
Linda Avery, Calloway County circuit clerk said while there is currently no difference in travel, she suggests calling military bases and other federal buildings before visiting to make sure the proper identification is obtained.
“A lot of bases have their own form of ID,” Avery said. “It might be wise to call the base.”
Kentucky lawmakers passed the ‘Voluntary Travel ID’ bill in March in order to make required changes to bring the state into compliance, but Kentuckians cannot update their driver’s licenses until 2019. Circuit clerk offices will not be able to get the equipment until then.
Avery said the Kentucky Department of Transportation has put out a proposal to different vendors whose product and process meets the standards regulated by the federal government. This proposal allows the office to get new equipment that allows the new licenses to be printed.
One of the requirements under the REAL ID Act is that states must have a secure facility to produce identification cards. The 133 circuit court clerk’s offices, one in each county in Kentucky, are not considered secure facilities. Therefore, lawmakers have designated the Department of Transportation in Frankfort as that secure facility where future identification cards will be printed.
Starting in 2019, Kentuckians wanting the voluntary travel ID will have to provide certain documents that will be scanned in and sent to the DOT in order to obtain new ID.
“If you want the voluntary travel ID, you must bring your birth certificate and social security card and proof, mail or two pieces of mail, dated in the last three days that you live in Calloway County,” Avery said.
Once an individual’s information has been sent to the DOT, they will receive a temporary identification card that will expire when the new enhanced ID arrives in the mail.
Current driver’s licenses are $20 and must be renewed every four years. The new standard driver’s license, the equivalent of what Kentuckians currently have, will be $43 and good for eight years, although it will not be in compliance with the federal act. Those wanting to board domestic flights or visit federal facilities will need to purchase the enhanced ID which will be $48 and will need to be renewed after eight years.
While the cost of the new IDs will impact Murray State students wallets, it will not have much of an impact on those studying abroad.
Melanie McMCallon Sieb, education abroad director said international students would not have to obtain the new voluntary ID because they already have approved identification.
“A lot of students do not necessarily have a driver’s license, so those students will typically use a passport,” Sieb said. “This is the one time where I think it is not going to impact our programs.”
Kentucky will need to apply for another extension next year, since the law does not take effect until January 2019. For more information about the REAL ID Act visit thenews.org.