It’s About To Get REAL – ID, that is.
The REAL ID Act became federal law in 2005. It was born out of concerns about the underlying security of operator’s licenses as de facto national identification cards that can be used to access federal facilities and board domestic flights. Making it nationally operational proved to be more difficult than expected, due to the patchwork methods used to issue such documents across the 50 states as well as U.S. territories. The long, complicated road to implementation in Kentucky, nevertheless, has led to several extensions to the commonwealth achieving full compliance with the law.
In 2017, Kentucky passed House Bill 410, creating the framework for the Commonwealth to become compliant. Due to the complexity of the changes needed in the underlying laws for the state, however, changes do not become effective until Jan. 1, 2019. In the months since the bill was signed, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has been developing the process to make the law operational.
From a law enforcement perspective, in the next few years, officers will be presented a variety of documents by individuals as identification. Determining the validity of such documents may require additional scrutiny, especially to determine if the document is current. It might be expected that officers will encounter more expired credentials in the short term, as individuals are not able to renew identification cards in a timely manner due to a lack of required breeder documents. Having some awareness of the underlying complexities of the process should ensure that Kentucky officers are able to give guidance to the local communities to maintain compliance of a valid identification credential.
Kentucky’s road to compliance with REAL ID has been longer than most states, because of the unique way Kentucky issues operators licenses and personal-identification cards.
In the past, these documents have been issued by local circuit court clerk’s offices, rather than a central office with a staff having expertise in scrutinizing the validity of breeder documents – those documents used to obtain additional identification documents. For example, a birth certificate and Social Security card will be breeder documents for obtaining an operator’s license (OL), and it is critical to ensure the breeder documents are valid to provide credibility to the secondary credential.
REAL ID requires that such documents be inspected more thoroughly, and as a result, Kentucky has created a new office to provide that level of scrutiny.
So how will the new process work?
Kentucky residents will make a choice between an OL (or non-driver personal identification card) that is REAL ID compliant and will serve as identification for air travel and other federal purposes, or one that is not. If the latter is elected, while there will be some changes, the process will be much simpler. However, if the choice is to have a single compliant travel ID, planning will be needed in advance to avoid delays and confusion.
To obtain a compliant travel ID, even if the resident holds a current Kentucky OL, a number of documents will be needed. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has developed an excellent website outlining the process, under the title Confident Kentucky. The website explains many different scenarios, such as if the resident would like to upgrade to the new identification but is not due for renewal.
The new identification will not be available until Jan. 1, 2019, but there are several steps that can be taken to prepare for obtaining the new identification at that time.
First and foremost is to determine if travel-compliant identification is needed. If the answer is no, and the individual already holds a Kentucky OL or ID card, the process requires a standard renewal, much like the holder would have done in the past.
However, if the applicant wants to upgrade to a travel-compliant document, planning in advance will be essential.
Of most importance is obtaining appropriate copies of needed documents. Starting the process of compiling such documents long before they are needed is the best course of action. Documents from three different categories will be needed: proof of identity, proof of Social Security number and proof of residency.
For proof of identity, a certified copy of one’s birth certificate or passport will be needed. The process for obtaining a birth certificate, of course, will depend upon where the individual was born, and may take some time. For proof of Social Security number, it will be important to have either an original Social Security card (not laminated) or a current W-2 tax form. Obtaining a duplicate Social Security card is a simple process through the Social Security office.
Proof of residency (one’s actual address) can be shown with utility bills, deeds or postmarked letter, but it could be problematic if the person does not have documentation of that sort that shows their name.
Finally, if the applicant has changed their name (such as through marriage, divorce or adoption) or has officially changed their gender, additional documents will be required as well. In effect, the goal of the process is to track one’s identity from birth to the present, without any gaps in the timeline.
For more information, including lists of specifically acceptable forms of identification, visit ConfidentKY.
New licenses offer many security features
Executive Director, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Office of Public Affairs
A Kentucky driver’s license is more than a pass to drive. It also serves as your wallet’s most important identity credential for multiple uses like making age-restricted purchases or passing through airport security checkpoints. To enhance the security of this trusted credential and offer new options to keep travelers on the move, state licenses will undergo significant upgrades.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is spearheading the Confident Kentucky initiative to revamp the issuance and production of driver’s licenses, permits and personal IDs. They will introduce a new Voluntary Travel ID credential that meets federal standards to board U.S. flights and enter restricted federal facilities, including military bases and nuclear power plants.
What should law enforcement look for?
A noticeable difference of the new card is the new grayscale photo of applicants. This laser-engraved image details precise facial features without the distraction and distortion of color. The new cards are produced on a high-quality material that is durable enough to withstand the longer lifespan of licenses.
The new background includes renditions of Kentucky symbols, like the state seal and goldenrod state flower, using intricate repetitive patterns in colors that are difficult to counterfeit. The image of the capitol has a 3D appearance and the duplicate photograph over the gold look-through window turns clear when backlit.
Voluntary Travel ID credentials will display a clear star with a black seal indicating it is REAL ID compliant for domestic air travel and entry into restricted federal facilities. New standard credentials will display the text “Not For REAL ID Purposes” – a Department of Homeland Security requirement since standard credentials will not be accepted to board a domestic flight or access restricted federal facilities, including military bases, once nationwide enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020.
To curb underage drinking, credentials will remain oriented horizontally for cardholders 21 and older and vertically for those under 21.
Standard license versus Travel ID
On Oct. 1, 2020, Kentucky’s current standard licenses will no longer be accepted to board U.S. commercial airlines or enter military bases and restricted federal facilities.
Through a phased rollout beginning in January 2019 and extending statewide by the spring, all Kentucky driver’s licenses, permits and personal IDs will have new security features, arrive in the mail 5 to 10 business days after residents apply at their local circuit court clerk’s office and will transition to an eight-year lifespan. New pricing will be in place to account for the doubled renewal cycle and additional security improvements.
Once the rollout reaches a local circuit court clerk office, Kentuckians applying for a driver’s license, permit or personal ID for the first time, or those renewing their current credential, will choose a card in one of two new versions: a standard credential or a Voluntary Travel ID credential.
Standard driver’s licenses and permits are acceptable to drive, vote, access federal and social benefit services (such as VA hospitals, Social Security offices, and federal courthouses) and for general identification purposes (such as signing a lease or purchasing age-restricted goods). Kentucky’s new Voluntary Travel ID is a state-maintained, federally compliant license accepted for domestic air travel and military base entry.
A Voluntary Travel ID doubles as a license or permit and offers all the benefits of a standard credential.
As long as Kentucky maintains an extension from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a standard driver’s license and ID card can be used to board U.S. commercial flights — until REAL ID enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020. At that point, travelers will need a new Voluntary Travel ID, or another acceptable form of identification like a passport, for domestic air travel and military base entry.
Air travelers younger than 18 do not need a Voluntary Travel ID if they are accompanied by an adult with acceptable documentation. A passport is still required for international travel.
For the first four years of the new licensing program, non-CDL applicants and those 21 or older may choose between a 4-year or 8-year credential. To account for the longer lifespan and security improvements, an 8-year standard license will be $43 and an 8-year Voluntary Travel ID license will be $48. Four-year versions of each are half the cost.
All first-time cardholders or those requesting a Voluntary Travel ID will present required documentation to their local circuit court clerk to establish their identities. This includes documents that show proof of identity, a Social Security number and residency.
All applicants will receive a 30-day temporary document that can be used to drive, vote or visit Ft. Campbell or Ft. Knox until the requested card arrives in the mail. The applicant’s current credential will be altered by the circuit court clerk and returned to the applicant. A resident may present both the temporary document and altered card to board a U.S. flight.
Credentials will be mailed due to a change in how credentials are produced. To boost security, card production for all new credentials is shifting from over-the-counter at more than 140 locations to one secure printing location. The new credentials feature nearly double the security features compared to current credentials