Kentucky will issue separate ‘travel ID’ to meet federal Real ID requirements

The state of Kentucky announced on Monday that it will begin issuing a new “travel ID” to citizens starting in January of 2019, enabling residents to travel on commercial airlines after the federal Real ID Act goes into effect in 2020.

The new travel ID will effectively replace a standard driver’s license, offering enhanced security features and complying with requirements from the Department of Homeland Security, according to WDRB. Citizens will still be able to access a traditional driver’s license, but after 2020 it will not be accepted at airports.

The changes, branded as “Confident Kentucky,” are required because the federal Real ID laws require more stringent — and, at $48 for eight years, slightly more costly — identity verification. Specifically, a $43 standard driver’s license needs just one proof of residency, while the new Kentucky travel ID will require citizens to provide two examples of proof of residency.

Beyond airports, the travel ID will also give access to military bases. The standard driver’s license, meanwhile, will still offer access to VA hospitals, Social Security Administration offices, and other social benefits.

Passed in 2005, the Real ID Act will require every air traveler to have a Real ID-compliant license as of Oct. 1, 2020. Kentucky is one of 22 states and territories that has been granted an extension for compliance.

The new federally mandated standards for state driver’s licenses and ID cards cover how states must share information, what data must be included on a card, the technology included in the card, and what documentation a citizen must present before being granted a card.

Among the data required on a Real ID card is a full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, unique identifying number, principal residence address, and a forward-facing photograph of the person. Security requirements include features that prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication, as well as storing data in machine-readable format.

As for why Kentucky is taking this approach, lawmakers and some citizens have expressed concern over Real ID database requirements, stoking fears about the federal government collecting too much information on citizens. By offering a basic driver’s license without Real ID compliance, Kentucky will allow citizens who are uncomfortable with the federal government’s approach to opt out.

OWI Insight: As the world converges and tries to make more identity use cases possible via a single set of credentials, Kentucky has instead opted to head in a different direction. Kentucky’s decision to offer an all-encompassing travel ID that is Real ID compliant, alongside a standard state driver’s license, is confusing and will likely cause problems at airports and for travelers. The state’s desire to give its citizens a choice highlights the difficulties that local culture can present in enforcing wide reaching policies among many communities.