Caldwell County residents now have a nearby option to maintain U.S. air travel and military base entry thanks to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's (KyTC) expansion of Real ID-compliant card access.
The McCracken County regional office is initially offering one station to process Real ID licenses, but will expand capacity in coming months. Kentuckians who have a current driver's license, permit or identification card may apply for a Kentucky's Real ID-compliant version if they want to use a state-issued credential to meet upcoming federal requirements that go into effect this fall.
Real ID is a federally mandated form of identification that meets Post-9/11 security standards for state driver's licenses and identification cards. Starting Oct. 1, Real ID compliant identification or certain acceptable alternatives, like a passport, will be necessary to board airplanes or visit military bases like Fort Campbell and some other federal facilities.
In Kentucky, implementation has been plagued by delays and changes. To help Kentuckians meet the Oct. 1 deadline, Gov. Andy Beshear has said anyone in the state wanting to obtain a Real ID can go to any regional office that has already rolled out the cards.
"We are not going to restrict this office that has opened to any particular list of counties or regions," Beshear told The Courier Journal.
Current driver's licenses and ID cards will continue to remain valid for driving, voting and general identification purposes. Caldwell County residents who want a standard license or identification card will continue to be able to obtain those state-issued ID inside the county's circuit clerk office in Princeton.
Sarah Jackson, a new leader on the Real ID project rollout, said people should make sure they have all the documents they need before traveling to another office.
She said people should go to drive.ky.gov/confidentKY and fill out an ID guide quiz to find out which documents they need to get a Real ID before making the trip to a Real ID office. People with different situations will need different documentation.
The Paducah driver licensing regional field office is located at 2855 Jackson St., Suite C. The office is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Applicants will receive a temporary 30-day document that serves as a driving credential until the permanent card arrives in the mail at the applicant's residence.
KyTC officials have said they may expand to 28 to 30 regional office locations where the IDs can be obtained next year, which comes with a price tag around $16 million.
The Courier Journal contributed to this story.