A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Don’t have a passport? You’ll need a ‘Real ID’ to fly when new identification rules take effect in October

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

By this fall, Americans who don’t have either one of the new “REAL IDs” or a valid passport won’t be able to fly or to visit military bases and federal facilities. Kentucky is urging its residents to take the change seriously.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, following recommendations from the 9/11 Commission to set higher standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. Sarah Jackson, REAL ID project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said documentation requirements for obtaining a REAL ID are stricter than those needed to apply for a regular driver’s license.

“The REAL ID license is a form of identification that will be required for air travel beginning Oct. 1,” she said, “or entry on military bases, in federal buildings, that would require ID.”

The state is rapidly opening up REAL ID offices where residents can obtain the new identification. They’re already open in Bowling Green, Paducah and Somerset, among 12 initial regional offices planned statewide. More information is online at drive.ky.org.

Jackson said a REAL ID also can be used as a driver’s license.

“You will have an option going forward when you renew of either getting a Kentucky regular driver’s license or a REAL ID,” she said, “and they will look very similar; the REAL ID will have a star up in the right corner and, of course, they’ll serve different purposes.”

Currently, Jackson said, the REAL ID offices only can process applications from residents of the county where that office is located – except at the office in Frankfort.

“We’re rolling out offices every few weeks or so,” she said. “Frankfort, currently — at Narrow Street, the Transportation Cabinet’s headquarters — is serving people from all counties.”

She stressed the importance of getting online and carefully reviewing the documents required for the REAL ID before showing up at a REAL ID office. She said the documentation can vary, especially for married women whose birth-certificate name doesn’t match their maiden name.

More information is online at TSA.gov and drive.ky.org. The REAL ID Act is at dhs.gov.

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