Just Moved to Kentucky. How Do I Transfer My Driver's License and Vehicle Registration?

by Jim on July 19, 2022

Welcome to the Bluegrass State! Glad to have you here. Before you get too cozy, you need to transfer your out-of-state documents, such as your driver’s license and vehicle registration. Here’s your guide to transferring your out-of-state documents to the state of Kentucky.

Requirements to Transfer Your Out-of-State Driver’s License to Kentucky

The requirements for transferring your out-of-state driver’s license to the state of Kentucky may vary slightly depending on where you were previously licensed. If you have a driver’s license from a different U.S. state, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a permanent resident or U.S. citizen

  • You must be at least 16 years old

  • If you’re transferring an out-of-state driving permit, you will be required to obtain a KY driving permit before you can obtain your KY driver’s license

  • If you’re under the age of 18, you are required to have a School Compliance Verification Form from your school

Kentucky Driver’s Testing Requirements

The testing requirements in the state of Kentucky are based on your license status. If you have a valid out-of-state driver’s license, you are not required to take the KY written, vision, road or knowledge tests.

If your driver’s license has been expired for more than one year, you must pass the written knowledge test and the vision test. If your driver’s license has not been expired for more than one year, but you are not able to present it, you will need a DHR or clearance letter from your previous residing state.

If you’ve never obtained a driver’s license, you’ll need to complete the entire licensing process and pass the Kentucky vision, knowledge, and road tests.

What If You’re From a Different Country?

If you’re from a different country, you may be required to present additional documentation, complete other requirements, and take the necessary driver’s tests at the KY driver licensing office.

If you attain a valid driver’s license from a foreign reciprocity country, you will only be required to take the KY knowledge and vision tests. If you have a driver’s license from any other country or you do not have a license, you will have to take a Kentucky knowledge, vision, and road tests.

How Quickly Are You Required to Transfer Your Driver’s License to Kentucky?

Once you establish residency in the state of Kentucky, you will be required to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license to Kentucky within 30 days of moving. Once the 30-day grace period expires, your driver’s license will become invalid and you will not be permitted to legally operate a motor vehicle on the roads and highways of Kentucky.

Are There Exceptions to This Rule?

Exceptions to the above-stated rule are students and military personnel. Students are permitted to drive using their out-of-state driver’s license as long as they are U.S. citizens, are enrolled in either full-time or part-time at a university or college, and carry a student identification card at all times.

What Should You Take to the Driver’s Licensing Office?

When you visit the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), you will need documentation that proves your identity. Keep in mind that these documents must be unaltered originals, which means these documents can’t be changed in any way.

You will need to present the following documents at your local KYTC branch:

  • Proof of identity (birth certificate)

  • Proof of your social security number (your social security card will suffice)

  • Proof of Kentucky residency

  • Your out-of-state driver’s license or a clearance letter

In addition to the above-listed documents, minors who are applying for a Kentucky driver’s license need to provide:

  • Parent guardian form

  • Custody verification (if applicable)

  • School verification form (if applicable)

You may be required to submit additional documentation if you’re an out-of-country driver or have specific medical conditions.

Kentucky Written Exam

In Kentucky, the driver’s written exam will take 25 to 45 minutes to complete. Make sure you arrive at the KY DMV office at least one hour before the office closes. To save time, it’s in your best interest to schedule an appointment. All questions on the Kentucky written exam are based on the information found in the state’s driver’s handbook. However, the KY driving written exam is not an open book test. This driving exam has a total of 40 questions. You are only allowed to answer 8 of these questions incorrectly in order to pass the exam.

Kentucky Vision Screening

The state of Kentucky requires all new drivers to pass a KY vision test and meet specific sight requirements. In Kentucky, licensed drivers are not required to have a vision screening unless their driving privileges have been suspended or their driver’s license has lapsed for more than one year.

Kentucky law states that individuals who are applying for a KY driver’s license for the first time must obtain horizontal vision of at least 35 degrees to the left and right and a minimum of 25 degrees above and below fixation in order to operate a motor vehicle.

Also, individuals who are participating in a certified driving training program are required to meet these additional sight requirements:

  • 20/20 or better vision with corrective lenses in their better eye

  • At least 120 degrees horizontal and 80 degrees vertical vision acuity in their better eye

  • Visual acuity of 20/60 or greeting using a bioptic telescopic device

  • The driver must also obtain stable vision for at least one year

Kentucky Road Test (In-Car)

As a new resident of Kentucky, you might be required to take the KY road test (in-car test) to receive your valid Kentucky driver’s license. You will be tested on the following:

  • Locating the controls

  • Use of signals

  • Checking your blind spots

  • Proper driving posture

  • Smooth accelerations and stops

  • Backing up

  • Obeying traffic lights, traffic laws, and stop signs

  • Making 3-point turns

  • Yielding the right-of-way

  • Stopping at a curb

  • Turning safely

  • Passing other vehicles and changing lanes

  • Staying in the correct lanes

  • Maintaining proper following distance

  • Maintaining proper speed

Kentucky Road Test Vehicle Requirements

Before you can take the Kentucky in-car road test, the vehicle you’re using must meet certain safety requirements, such as:

  • Valid registration and vehicle insurance

  • No cracks or other damages to the windshield that obstructs the driver’s view of the road and pedestrians

  • Safe tire tread and proper inflation

  • Working seat belts and doors

  • Functioning lights

  • A working horn

It’s important to arrive at the KY DMV office before you are scheduled to take any kind of test to give yourself more than enough time to check in and get ready. If you only obtain a learner’s permit, you must arrive at the KY DMV with a supervising driver. Be advised that if you fail your permit test, you must wait until the following business day to possibly retake the test.

Success! Now that you know what you need to do to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license to the state of Kentucky, we can discuss transferring your out-of-state vehicle registration to Kentucky.

Transferring Your Out-of-State Vehicle Registration to the State of Kentucky

In the state of Kentucky, as a new resident, you are required to apply for a new vehicle title. You must also request a new vehicle title if you purchase an out-of-state vehicle while being a current resident of Kentucky. You will have 15 days to complete the vehicle title transfer process as a non-resident of the state of Kentucky. Failure to complete the vehicle title transfer will result in penalties and fines under the current Kentucky law.

To obtain a vehicle title from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet as a new resident of KY, you need to visit your local KY county clerk’s office with the following documentation and payment:

  • Vehicle title certificate from your previous residing state

  • Certified vehicle inspection from your county’s sheriff department to verify your vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Proof of a valid KY vehicle insurance policy (dated within 45 days)

  • Valid driver’s license or photo ID

  • Payment for the Kentucky vehicle title transfer fees and applicable taxes

If you are currently paying a car loan, and the lender is in possession of the vehicle’s title, your county clerk will write a letter to the lender requesting that the vehicle title be sent to the KY county clerk. The clerk may issue you temporary license plates to display while you wait for your permanent license plate.

Be advised that if the name on your vehicle title is different than your ID, you must provide proof of a legal name change.

Leased Vehicles

In addition to submitting the above-listed documentation, if your vehicle is leased, you must take the following to your Kentucky county clerk’s office:

  • Power of attorney from your leasing company stating you may sign the documents on behalf of the leasing company

  • A statement provided on the leasing company’s letterhead disclosing all sales taxes paid on the vehicle

Keep in mind that if your leasing company utilizes Kentucky’s U-Drive-It program, you don’t have to provide proof of sales tax paid, and your vehicle will be exempt from the vehicle inspection.

Completing a Vehicle Title Transfer for Vehicle Sales

A Kentucky vehicle title transfer is required when vehicle ownership changes. This change in vehicle ownership also includes a change of ownership that occurs as a result of the purchase or sale of a vehicle.

Purchasing a Vehicle From a Kentucky Dealer

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, often, the dealership handles the vehicle title and registration process on your behalf. Make sure you ask about additional steps you might need to take title your new vehicle.

Buying or Selling a Vehicle in a Private Party Transaction

If the purchase or sale of a vehicle has occurred between two private parties, it’s a good idea for both the buyer and seller of the vehicle to visit the Kentucky county clerk’s office together and present the following documents:

  • The vehicle’s current title certificate

  • Proof of a valid vehicle insurance policy (buyer must provide)

  • A completed Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration (Form TC 96-182) This form also includes an odometer disclosure statement.

  • Photo ID

  • Payment for all applicable Kentucky vehicle title fees and sales/use taxes

If the buyer and seller of the vehicle are not able to be present, the signatures on the vehicle title application may need to be notarized.

Keep in mind that the procedures for completing a vehicle title transfer or a gifted vehicle in Kentucky are similar to the steps that are required for completing a vehicle title transfer of a purchased vehicle. The sales tax that is based on the vehicle’s current trade-in value will apply.

Lien Releases

Yay! You’ve done it. You paid off your vehicle loan. Once you pay off your car loan, the lender needs to release the lien, which makes it possible for you to successfully complete a vehicle title transfer (if necessary).

A Title Lien Statement (Form TC 96-187) is required for the vehicle lien to be released, and only available at your county clerk’s office. This form needs to be completed by the lender and submitted to your KY county clerk.

What Are the Kentucky Vehicle Title Transfer Fees?

The titling fees in Kentucky vary by county. You can contact your county clerk for more information regarding these fees. Your vehicle title will generally be prepared and sent to you within 5 business of its receipt, given that the information is correct and the paperwork is completed appropriately and accurately.

If you need your vehicle title sooner, you can pay an additional $25 for speed title services. However, this service is not available in the Frankfort licensing office. You can expect to pay a sales tax of 6% of the retail value of your vehicle, or 6% of the purchase price. In Kentucky, a speed vehicle title is required to be made available to you within 1 business day of the Kentucky Department of Vehicle regulation receiving notification of your vehicle title application.

Changing Vehicle Title Information

If you need to change your vehicle title information, the procedures for making changes on your Kentucky vehicle title varies depending on the changes you wish to make. If you need to remove the name of your former spouse after a divorce, you need to take the following to your KY county clerk’s office:

  • The vehicle title certificate

  • A property settlement signed by you and your ex-spouse

  • A final divorce decree signed by a judge

  • Payment for all applicable vehicle title transfer fees or sales tax

If you need to make other changes to your vehicle’s title, contact your local KY county clerk’s office.

Kentucky DMV Locations

There are multiple Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicle locations throughout the state of Kentucky where you can transfer your out-of-state vehicle documents and handle other motor vehicle requests and transactions.

Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicles - Lexington Branch

162 E Main St

Ste 206

(859) 253-3344

Monday - Friday (8 AM - 4:30 PM)

Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicles - Louisville Branch

527 W Jefferson St

Louisville, KY 40202

(502) 574-5700

Monday - Friday (8:30 AM - 4:40 PM)

Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

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