Kentuckians might need a passport to travel in the US soon

Kentuckians might need a passport to travel in the US soon
(Provided, TSA)

FOX19 - The TSA is moving closer to rejecting some state driver's licenses and Kentuckians flying domestically might want to consider getting a passport soon —  or risk having their travel plans tanked after new federal rules go into effect.

Why do I need a passport?

Kentucky is under review by the Department of Homeland Security after the state missed an Oct. 10 deadline to come into compliance with federal security rules enacted in 2005 for driver's licenses. Some are baffled that some state governments have waited over a decade and after the deadline to get their licenses in order.

"The states were given a deadline," Jay Ratliff, a former executive for Northwest Airlines said. "They've had 12 years to do their homework and several states haven't taken care of business and now people that are going to be flying will be running into problems."

If the feds do not grant another waiver to Kentucky by Jan. 22, those without passports could be grounded, even for domestic travel — the TSA will not accept driver's licenses to pass through security.

Passengers who do not have a compliant type of identification will have to produce another type of government-approved identification, like a passport or military ID.

In Kentucky's case, it isn't the IDs themselves, it's the process that's the problem.

Kentucky already meets the federal standards for their state licenses such as listing the person's full name and having a scannable barcode. However, it's the security of the ID process that does not meet federal regulations.

Because the state doesn't have a centralized location for printing IDs, there are no across-the-board standards for security measures.

According to Keith Buckhout, an official with the state's public affairs office, Kentucky lacks a number of security elements such as keypad entry into buildings and monitoring devices at every place IDs are made.

Will new regulations really kill my vacation?

It is unclear how likely it is Homeland Security will extend Kentucky's deadline. However, Jan. 22 is rapidly approaching and it can take about two months to get a passport. State officials are confident the feds will grant them an extended deadline, according to Andrea Clifford, interim director of public affairs. But there's no guarantee the federal government will grant another grace period after 12 years of the state failing to move.

"DHS is committed to enforcing the REAL ID Act in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and regulatory timeframes and is not inclined to grant additional extensions to any states," a statement from Homeland Security said.

Kentucky driver's licenses also will not be good enough to enter military bases

Visitors to military bases will also be turned around for not having federally-approved driver's licenses. Visiting your son or daughter graduating military basic training or going to see a significant other serving? You might need a passport too.

Visitors to nuclear plants and other federal facilities must also provide a state ID that complies with federal law or show another form of government ID.

The state did fix this problem, but there's a catch

Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 410 into law in March, which lawmakers say brings Kentucky into compliance with federal security regulations for driver's licenses. The problem? The new measure does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019. The worst case scenario is Kentuckians could be barred from flying and entering military bases for a year. Bevin vetoed similar legislation in 2016.

Kentucky isn't the only state

Ohio and Indiana are in compliance, there's no problem with those state IDs. California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine are all under review for lacking proper secured driver's licenses.

No state is listed as not compliant by Homeland Security yet.

Where did these new rules come from? 

In 2005, the U.S. government passed the Real ID Act, issuing stricter standards for state-issued IDs in an attempt to curb terrorism post-9/11. Most state IDs have a gold or black star to show they are compliant with the new regulations.

Currently, each state's ID cards can be totally different from one another, making it difficult to determine legitimacy across state lines. Real ID aims to end that confusion.

Copyright 2017 WXIX. All rights reserved.