Regional offices being proposed for Real ID program


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- State lawmakers heard an update on Kentucky’s effort to implement the federal Real ID law Monday afternoon, including the proposal of setting up a dozen regional offices.

The program has had numerous fits and starts since a pilot project began at the Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s officer earlier this year. That included the length of time needed to process the applications, leading the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to decide having regional offices dedicated to the new licenses, instead of the 120-circuit clerks, as originally envisioned.

Matt Henderson, commissioner of the Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Vehicle Registration, told the Interim Joint Transportation Committee that despite the problems, 3,500 Kentuckians have gotten the Real IDs. “Looking at just Franklin, Anderson and Woodford counties, it’s about 40 percent of the credentials that we are issuing are voluntary travel IDs.”

He noted that in other states, “Currently, we have about 27 percent of the population that has voluntary travel IDs across the nation.”

Henderson says the time needed to apply for the Real IDs has dropped. “The transaction times are right where we’d like them to be, eight to 10 minutes.”

While the federal Real ID law has been on the books for 15 years, and there have been several years of extensions, the U. S. Department of Homeland Security says that on Oct. 1, 2020, you will not be able to board a domestic airline flight, enter a federal courthouse or go onto a military base without a Real ID.

“So, we want to make sure that these credentials are made available to the citizens of this state prior to that date,“ said Henderson. “The fastest, most effective route to do that is to start up regional offices. We’re in the process of getting 12 locations across the state. We are working with all state cabinets to identify state-owned and state-maintained properties where we can stand up these locations much quicker than getting into the bidding process.”

While initially there will be one location in each of the 12 highway districts in Kentucky, Henderson says eventually they would like to expand that to 28 or 30. Since the state law establishing the Real ID program envisioned they would be issued at all 120-circuit clerk offices, he says they will need the General Assembly to pass legislation during the 2020 session allowing for regional offices instead.

They hope to have at the least original 12 regional centers up and running by early next year.

He said full implementation would cost the state around $16 million per year, based on 28 regional offices, but that amount would be offset by the higher fee for the Real ID compliant credential.

Henderson admits the Real ID is not for everyone and that you can also use a passport or a passport card to comply with the October 2020 requirements.

For more information on the program, including the additional documents you will need to apply for a Real ID, go to


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