Title Application

Prior to operation of a vehicle on the highways of the state, the owner must obtain motor vehicle insurance, a certificate of registration, and a license plate and apply for a certificate of title.

The owner of a new vehicle, the transferee of a vehicle, or the owner of a vehicle brought into the state for permanent use in the state must apply for registration within 15 days.

An application for vehicle title is made to the county clerk in the county in which the owner resides, or, if a new vehicle, in the county in which the dealer has his or her principal place of business.

Prior to application for a certificate of title, the owner of a vehicle must have the vehicle inspected by a certified inspector in the county in which the application for title is to be submitted to the county clerk. The inspection includes verification of the vehicle identification number, legibility of the application for title, and an odometer reading. 

 New motor vehicles sold by a dealer licensed in Kentucky do not require inspection.

Title Transfer of Ownership

When an owner transfers his interest in a vehicle, the owner must execute an assignment and warranty of title to the transferee.

Any person other than a dealer who sells a motor vehicle must deliver the certificate of registration and the certificate of title to the county clerk’s office and must transfer the vehicle to the new owner within 10 days of the date of sale or transfer. An affidavit attesting to the actual consideration paid may also be required.

If the transferor learns that the transferee did not promptly submit the necessary documentation to the county clerk within 15 days, as required by law, the transferor must submit an affidavit to the county clerk stating that the owner has transferred his interest in the vehicle.

A transfer of ownership will not be permitted unless evidence has been presented to the county clerk that all excise taxes imposed on the sale or transfer have been paid.

A transfer of ownership will not be permitted unless proof of insurance has been presented to the county clerk.

Titles for Mobile Homes

Mobile homes must be registered.

If a mobile home will not be operated upon the highways of the state, the owner must within 15 days apply for a certificate of title, but the owner need not apply for registration until the mobile home is to be operated on the highways of the state.

Registration Application

An application for vehicle registration is made to the county clerk in the county in which the owner resides, or, if a new vehicle, in the county in which the dealer has his or her principal place of business.

The owner of a new vehicle, the transferee of a vehicle, or the owner of a vehicle brought into the state for permanent use in the state must apply for registration within 15 days.

The application for registration must be accompanied by a bill of sale and a manufacturer’s certificate of title if it is a new vehicle, or the owner’s registration receipt if the vehicle was previously registered in Kentucky.

If the vehicle was last registered in another state, the application must be accompanied by the owner’s registration receipt and bill of sale if the previous state of registration does not require an owner to obtain a certificate of title, or the certificate of title if last registered in a state requiring such certificate.

There is no period of grace for late registration.

Renewal of registration may be completed via mail.

A registration certificate will not be issued if the payment of ad valorem taxes are delinquent.

An application will not be accepted if it does not contain a vehicle identification number or motor number.

If a vehicle is destroyed by fire or accident, the owner is entitled to a refund proportionate to the unused amount of the registration fee.

The owner’s copy of the registration receipt must be kept in the vehicle (except motorcycles) at all times.

Registration for Non-Residents

A certificate of registration is not needed for a vehicle which is owned by a non-resident and principally operated in another state and currently registered and titled in another state.

An owner who brings a vehicle in from another state must apply for registration within 15 days and the application must be accompanied by proof of insurance.

Any full-time college student or member of the armed services who is temporarily maintaining an abode in Kentucky does not need to register his or her vehicle while in school or stationed in Kentucky if he or she maintains residency in his or her home state.

Registration Type

All motor vehicles, including motorcycles, with a Gross Vehicular Weight (GVW) of 6,000 lbs. or less, first registered or needing renewed registration after January 1, 1983, are on a system of year-round registration based upon the birth month of the owner and evidenced by a license plate bearing an adhesive insignia.

Upon the owner’s request and payment of the appropriate pro-rated fee, a vehicle may be registered for 2 years, with the registration and license plate valid through the last day of the month of the owner’s birthday in the second year of the vehicle’s registration.

Emissions Inspection

Emissions inspections in certain cities and counties. OBD is utilized as part of the state emissions inspection process.

Safety Inspection

There is no periodic statewide vehicle safety inspection requirement.

Title and Registration Fees


Title Fee: $92.00

Registration Fee: $21.00


Title Fee: $9.00

Registration Fee: $9.00


Plate Fee: $9.00

Registration Fee: $3.00

Driver’s License Fee: $12.00

Title Fee: $12.00

Special Plates: $25.00

Plate Disbursement

One reflectorized plate is issued for the rear of the vehicle that must be illuminated during hours of darkness.

The county clerk issues a decal or decals, to be placed on the license plate, corresponding to the month and year of expiration shown on the registration certificate.

The color scheme for license plates is blue on a scenic background.

Specialized and personalized plates are available.

Transfer of Plates

When a previously registered motor vehicle changes ownership, the registration plate shall remain on the vehicle.  A registration plate shall not remain on the vehicle but shall be retained by the seller and may be transferred to another vehicle owned or leased by the seller. If the plate transfer occurs in the final month in which the existing registration is still valid, the individual shall be required to renew the registration on the newly acquired vehicle.

Upon the sale or transfer of a vehicle bearing a personalized plate, the owner must remove the plate and return it, along with the certificate of registration, to the county clerk. The personalized plate may be re-issued by the county clerk to a vehicle of the same classification and category owned by the same person.

Driver's License Examination

All examinations are conducted by the State Police and are held in the county in which the applicant resides.

The examination includes a vision test (requires 20/40 visual acuity), a test of the applicant’s knowledge of traffic signs, signals, and traffic laws, and a roadside demonstration test.

Non-residents need not take the examinations provided they hold a valid license from a state that affords a reciprocal exemption to a Kentucky resident.

Graduated Driver's Licensing

Kentucky has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 16, individuals are eligible for a learner’s permit.

  • During this stage, individuals may not drive unless supervised by a person 21 years of age or older, or a driving instructor on a driver training range.
  • Learner’s permit holders may not drive between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. and may only have 1 unrelated passenger under 20 years of age.

At age 16 and 6 months, drivers who have held a permit for at least 6 months, accumulated 60 hours (10 at night) of parental/guardian certified driving are eligible to apply for an intermediate license.

  • Intermediate license holders may not drive between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. unless they can demonstrate “good cause” for driving such as emergencies or participation in school or work-related activities.
  • Permit and intermediate license holders must complete a mandatory 4 hour graduated license safety class.
  • During the intermediate state, drivers are permitted only 1 unrelated passenger under 20 years of age (secondarily enforced).

At age 17, after holding an intermediate license for 6 months, drivers are eligible for an unrestricted license.

Under state law, 16-and 17-year olds who are identified for academic deficiency, have 9 or more unexcused absences from school, or who have dropped out will not be eligible to receive a learner’s permit or intermediate license. Drivers who already hold a permit or intermediate license can have it revoked for the same reasons.

Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.

Driver’s License Issuance/Application

All licenses are issued by the Transportation Cabinet.

Only persons with legal CIS status are issued Kentucky licenses or I.D.’s.

Application for original or renewal licenses are made at the office of the circuit clerk in the county wherein the applicant resides.

The application must contain the person’s full name, signature, date of birth, social security number, sex, address, voter application information, and a brief physical description. All licenses bear a color photograph of the applicant.

An application for a driver’s license, motorcycle license, or instruction permit by a person under the age of 18 must be accompanied by the signature of the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.

An applicant for an identification card must indicate whether they possess an identification card, permit or license from another state or country. The applicant must surrender the card, permit or license from another state.

Non-residents that are at least 16 years old and are licensed in another state may operate a vehicle in Kentucky without obtaining a Kentucky learner’s permit or operator’s license as long as his or her home state accords similar privileges to licensed residents of Kentucky. If the non-resident’s home state does not afford such privileges to licensed residents of Kentucky, the non-resident may operate a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or moped for not more than 30 days in any 1 year without obtaining a Kentucky license.

Whenever a licensee’s address or name is changed from that which appears on a license, the licensee must apply for a corrected license within 10 days of the change.

Social security number not displayed on license.

Non-citizens who are non-residents of Kentucky may drive for 1 year on the license issued by their home country.

Licenses of non-citizens are linked to the expiration dates of the person’s visa.

Driver's License Renewal

An application for renewal must be made every 4 years within 30 days after the birth date of the applicant.

An applicant under the age of 21 will be issued a license that is valid until the applicant attains the age of 21 and the applicant must apply for a renewal within 30 days of his or her 21st birthday.

Military personnel on active duty out of the state and their dependents may renew their driver’s licenses by mail.

Types of Driver's Licenses

Licenses are categorized by class and are distinguished as being commercial or non-commercial.

Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a GVW rating of 26,001 lbs. or more.

Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVW rating of 26,001 lbs. or more and any vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 lbs.

Class C: Any single vehicle with a GVW rating of less than 26,001 lbs. transporting hazardous materials.

Class D: All vehicles not listed in any other class including passenger cars.

Class E: Mopeds only.

Class M: Motorcycles and mopeds.

Distracted Driving

Text messaging while driving is prohibited. Persons under the age of 18 who have been issued an instruction permit, intermediate license, or operator’s license are prohibited from driving while using any kind of personal communication device. Exempts the use of a global positioning or navigation system that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle.  School bus drivers may not use cell phones while driving.


No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.

Impaired Driving

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). Utah’s per se limit is 0.05 BAC. All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.

Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.

The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws.  NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.

Kentucky requires the use of ignition interlocks for all.

Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including towing and recovery vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers age 7 and older and over 50 inches tall (effective June 22, 2015, age 8 and older and over 57 inches).

Violation of the seat belt law is a standard offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck bed is permitted.

Child Passenger Safety

Children under 8 years old and between 40 and 57 inches in height  must be secured using a booster seat

Children 40 inches or less must be properly secured in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.

Railroad Crossing

The operator of a vehicle must stop at a railroad crossing when a signal device warns of the immediate approach of a train or other on-track equipment, an approaching train or other on-track equipment is visible and in hazardous proximity, or a human flagman signals the approach of a train.

The operator of any bus or motor vehicle used for transporting children must stop not less than 10 feet nor more than 30 feet from the nearest track before crossing any railroad, except where crossing is protected by gates or a flagman is employed.

School Buses

If any school or church bus is stopped and has a stop arm and signal lights activated, any vehicle approaching from any direction must stop and may not proceed until the bus has been put into motion. This rule does not apply when approaching a stopped bus from the opposite direction upon a highway of 4 or more lanes.

School buses, loaded or unloaded, cannot turn right on red in Kentucky or left on red where two one way streets intersect.

Bumper Height

Modification of original vehicle bumper height is permitted, provided Driver’s vision is not obscured.

Headlight Use

Must use low beams at 100 feet and high beams at 350 feet or greater.

Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is permitted while driving.

Tire Chains

Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface.

Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted.

Glass/Window Tinting

Any windows that are forward of or adjacent to the driver’s seat may not be composed of, covered by, or treated with any sunscreening material or any product that has the effect of making the windows non-transparent. Sunscreening material is permitted if it has a total solar reflectance of visible light of not more than 25% on the non-film side.

Any windows that are behind the driver may not be covered by, composed of, or treated with any sunscreening material, but such material may be used if it has a total solar reflectance of visible light of not more than 35% on the non-film side.

The rear window of any vehicle may not be composed of, covered by, or treated with any sunscreening material unless the vehicle is equipped with side mirrors on both sides.

Window tinting on the windshield is permitted only along the top strip of the windshield.

Video Screens

No statewide restriction.

Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted for passenger vehicles but prohibited for use by commercial vehicles.

Windshield Stickers

Windshield stickers are permitted when required by law.

Other Equipment Rules


Motorcycle Equipment

Every motorcycle or moped must be equipped with at least 1 headlamp.

All motorcycles must be equipped with a rearview mirror.

All persons operating a motorcycle must wear protective eye gear and any rider under the age of 21, or any person operating a motorcycle with an instruction permit, or any person who has held a motorcycle license for less than 1 year must wear a safety helmet. Riders 21 and older may ride without a helmet if they can provide proof of a medical insurance policy.

Motorcycle Licenses

Any person who already possesses a valid intermediate driver’s license, or who is at least 18 years old, may apply for an instruction permit to operate a motorcycle.  A motorcycle instruction permit is valid for 1 year.

An applicant for a motorcycle license must pass a roadside demonstration test.

Motorcycle rider training courses are provided free of charge to applicants under 18 years of age.

Successful completion of an approved rider training course, which includes a minimum of 8 hours of hands-on instruction, permits exemption from the licensing skill test for motorcycle license applicants.

A license to operate a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or moped shall be renewed every eight (8) years.

Motorcycle Noise Limits

No statewide motorcycle noise limit restriction.

Mopeds & Other

Registration not required.

Minimum age to ride a moped is 16.

No safety equipment is required.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet; trailer and motor home length: 45 feet; trailer width: 8 feet (excluding safety equipment); motor home width: 8 feet 6 inches (excluding appurtenances and safety equipment up to 6 inches); height: 13 feet 6 inches. There is an exemption to weight requirements for vehicles transporting feed for livestock or poultry.

Trailer Brakes

Kentucky law does not specifically require brakes on many passenger car trailers, regardless of weight. However, vehicles singular or in combination must be able to stop within distance specified by statute.

Trailer Hitch/Signals

Frame mounted on equalizer type hitch is recommended. Safety chain is required.

Trailer Lighting

When any vehicle is being towed by another, it must carry at least 1 light on the left side that is green on the front and red on the back and visible from at least 500 feet.

Trailer Mirrors

Every motor vehicle which is so loaded as to obstruct the Driver’s view to the rear must be equipped with a mirror so located and adjusted as to reflect a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear.

Trailer Speed Limits

Same as passenger cars.

Trailer Towing

No vehicle may haul more than 2 vehicles, connected in such a manner as to keep them evenly spaced, at any one time.

Trailer Other Provisions

Riding in towed trailers is permitted.

Accident Reporting

Crashes are required to be reported in cases or death, injury, or when property damage exceeds $500.00.

The deadline to file a report is 10 days.

Liability Laws

Kentucky has no-fault and mandatory liability insurance law.

Evidence of liability insurance must be kept within the vehicle.

The minimum liability policy coverage is $25,000 per person with an aggregate limit of $50,000 per accident and $10,000 for all damages to or destruction of property.

State has non-resident service of process law; does not have guest suit law.