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Kentucky Driver's License Still Enough in Federal Buildings, For Now


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted an extension to Kentucky for meeting requirements of the new identification security law known as REAL ID – meaning a Kentucky driver’s license is still sufficient for gaining access to most federal buildings.

Without the extension, those with a Kentucky driver’s license would have to produce another form of identification, such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport, for access to some federal properties. The extension runs through October 10, 2015, and is renewable.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 recommending “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The federal act sets minimum standards for production and issuance of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official uses driver’s licenses and IDs from “noncompliant” states.

In 2012, Kentucky began issuing a redesigned license and ID including state-of-the-art security features,  but driver’s license itself is not the issue. Complying with REAL ID is more complicated for Kentucky than for most other states – in part because driver’s licenses are issued by circuit court clerks, not by a department of motor vehicles. There are 142 issuance locations around Kentucky – all of which would have to meet enhanced security standards. A security assessment of the local offices is in process.

To date, 20 other states besides Kentucky have been given extensions. Nine states and American Samoa are listed as noncompliant.

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