Regional counties among 10 transitioning driver license from court clerks to regional centers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Ten more Kentucky counties will make the transition in June to a new, secure driver-licensing model, administered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), that gives customers more choices and modern services.

The traditional system of licenses and permits being issued by the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in each county is being phased out.

It is being replaced by a network of KYTC Driver Licensing Regional Offices intentionally located across the state.

Sixteen regional offices have been opened statewide to date. The cabinet and Kentucky’s circuit court clerks are working together to smoothly complete the transition statewide by June 30, 2022.

“It’s a new era of driver licensing in Kentucky that will usher in technology enhancements and more service options than ever before,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “After many years of issuing driver licenses, circuit court clerks will be able to focus solely on court business and driver licensing will be executed at new regional offices whose only business is licensing. With the Transportation Cabinet at the helm to process ID requests, Kentuckians will have new options, like online appointment scheduling, the choice between a REAL ID or standard credential, and soon, online driver license renewal.”

Making the transition in June will be Elliott, Fleming, Hancock, Hart, Knott, Lee, Owen, Owsley, Rockcastle and Wolfe counties.

The Office of Circuit Court Clerk in each of those counties will cease nearly all in-person driver licensing services on June 28, 2021, and licensing services will instead be performed at KYTC’s regional offices.

It will bring to 30 the number of counties to have made the transfer of services.

Residents of counties making the transition may renew or apply for a REAL ID or new standard card version of driver license, learner permits, commercial driver licenses (CDL) and ID cards at any Transportation Cabinet Driver Licensing Regional Office.

Applicants are encouraged to make an appointment online, which can be done at drive.ky.gov | Regional Offices Map. Walk-in customers are also welcome.

One temporary exception to the transition remains: Until June 30, 2021, the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in every county but Fayette will continue to process remotely submitted applications for renewal or replacement of standard-issue credentials, provided the card expires by that date and the applicant has not had a change of address or change of name and does not require testing performed by the Kentucky State Police.

Get more information at drive.ky.gov | COVID-19 Driver Licensing Changes and Updates.

Remote renewal was a temporary, emergency measure directed by Official Order of KYTC Secretary Jim Gray to safeguard public health by limiting person-to-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KYTC regional offices – the only place to get a REAL ID – are currently operating in Paducah, Madisonville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Louisville/Hurstbourne, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Lexington, Burlington, Richmond, Columbia, Somerset, Jackson, Morehead, Catlettsburg and Prestonsburg, with more offices planned. All offices are temporarily operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19. A smaller, temporary field office at Louisville/Bowman Field is operating by appointment only.

Kentucky State Police will continue to oversee all permit and license testing. Appointments for written or road testing can be made online at kentuckystatepolice.org/driver-testing.

The transition is more than a change of office locations. “Our regional offices also offer a more secure issuance process and upgraded card security features to curb fraud,” Secretary Gray said.

Driver Licensing Regional Offices will offer the following:

  • Online appointment scheduling. Walk-in customers are still welcome.
  • Coming soon: online license renewal for REAL ID or standard version cardholders who have not had a change of name or address.
  • A choice between a REAL ID or new standard card version. Both feature security upgrades and are available with a choice of four-year or eight-year expiration. (CDLs are only available as eight-year credentials.)
  • Service at ANY regional office, regardless of customer’s county of residence.
  • Periodic “Popup Driver Licensing” visits to counties without a regional office to offer on-site application and renewal services.

License applicants receive a temporary identification document at the end of the transaction for use until the permanent card arrives by mail at their home address. This reduces the wait time for printing and improves security by eliminating in-office card production machinery.

Transition of licensing services was mandated with passage of House Bill 453 during the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly. Counties having already made the transition are Adair, Breathitt, Caldwell, Casey, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Green, Hardin, Hopkins, Madison, McCracken, McCreary, Menifee, Metcalfe, Pulaski, Rowan, Russell, Webster and Woodford.

REAL ID

Kentucky will continue offering the option of a standard driver’s license, but a REAL ID or other form of federally approved identification, such as a passport or military ID, eventually will be needed by people 18 and older for boarding commercial flights and accessing military bases and federal buildings that currently require identification. Enforcement is scheduled to begin May 3, 2023.

First-time application for a REAL ID must be made in person at a Driver Licensing Regional office. Specific documentation is required. A list of acceptable documentation and a link to take an interactive quiz that populates a personalized list of documents is available at drive.ky.gov | IDocument Guide.

Masks are required by visitors unless they have been fully vaccinated – defined as two weeks after the final vaccination shot. Surfaces are cleaned and touch pad equipment sanitized after each use.

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