Most airlines will allow you to use a digital version of your boarding pass, but some states now allow residents to go through airport security with a driver’s license or other approved ID that’s stored on their iPhone or Apple Watch.
Instead of digging through your pocket, all you have to do is update your Apple Wallet.
“The addition of driver’s licenses and state IDs to Apple Wallet is an important step in our vision to replace the physical wallet with a secure and easy-to-use mobile wallet,” said Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. in a statement in 2021.
It’s still not a universal game changer: while 12 states have committed to digital IDs, only three have officially begun to accept them. And while the airport you’re departing from may accept a license on your Apple Watch, you may not receive the same courtesy on the return trip.
The Transportation Security Administration is already endorsing the technology at select airport security checkpoints. So it’s really a question of when, not if the option will become standard across the country.
Here’s what you need to know about putting your driver’s license in your Apple Wallet, including how to do it and which states recognize digital IDs.
Read more: Homeland Security Postpones Real ID Deadline at Airports
How do I add my driver’s license to my Apple Wallet?
Apple created the technology to upload your ID to your Apple Wallet in iOS 15 for the iPhone. The process is similar to how you would add a new credit card.
First, tap on the “more” button at the top of the screen in Wallet. (If you have an Apple Watch paired with your iPhone, it will also ask you about adding your license there.)
It will then scan your physical driver’s license with your iPhone’s camera and take a selfie, “which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification,” according to Apple.
You will also be required to complete a series of head and face movements “as an added security step.”
Once your ID has been verified by the state that issued it, it will be added to your wallet.
In order to add your license or ID to Apple Wallet, it must be issued by a participating state. In addition, you will need:
- An iPhone 8 or later, or Apple Watch Series 4 or later, with the latest version of iOS or WatchOS
- Face ID or Touch ID enabled
- An Apple ID with two-factor authentication turned on
- Your device region set to US
Also, only passengers with TSA pre-check on their boarding pass are eligible to display digital licenses, according to the TSA website, though the agency said it plans to add the option for other passengers in the future.
Only one license or ID can be added to a paired iPhone and Apple Watch at a time.
Which airports accept digital identification?
Apple initially announced in 2021 that eight states would participate in the program, then increased the number to 12 this year.
But those are states committed to accept Apple Wallet IDs, is not what is currently done.
At this time, only Arizona, Colorado, and Maryland support the Digital ID feature, and only at select security checkpoints at these airports:
- Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah have all agreed to support the initiative, as has Puerto Rico, though no specific timelines have been announced.
Other states are expected to join this list: Last year, Bailey said Apple was “already in talks with a lot more states.”
And in November, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles said it was “exploring” the digital ID option.
“There’s a condition that created a study committee on the idea and they’re still looking into it,” spokeswoman Maranda Williams told The State, a Columbia, South Carolina-based news outlet.
Aside from Apple’s efforts, some states allow residents to load their driver’s licenses onto their phones through state-operated apps, like Louisiana’s LA Wallet. But these are for driving and age verification purposes and are not yet accepted by TSA.
How do I use a license stored in my Apple Wallet at TSA?
To present your digital ID, tap your iPhone or Apple Watch on the ID reader at the security checkpoint.
You will then be prompted to authenticate your identification with Face ID or Touch ID.
If successful, a check mark should appear on the screen.
According to Apple, “You don’t have to unlock, show or trade in your device [to a TSA agent].”
Is this technology safe?
According to Apple, it is.
The company says the program uses the same privacy and security features already found on the iPhone and Apple Watch to prevent tampering and theft.
“Your driver’s license or state identification data is encrypted,” read a statement on Apple’s support website. “Neither the state issuing authority nor Apple can see when and where you use your license or ID, and biometric authentication with Face ID and Touch ID helps ensure that only you can see and use your license or ID.”
The TSA has also endorsed digital IDs.
“Digital identity has the ability to strengthen airport security and improve the passenger experience by reducing touch points, providing greater privacy, and verifying IDs more accurately,” the agency said in a statement.
My state accepts digital IDs. Do I still need my physical license at the airport?
Yes. The program is still in its infancy and there is no guarantee that the checkpoint you use will be set up to accept a driver’s license in your Apple Wallet.
“All passengers must continue to have their physical driver’s license available,” according to the Transportation Security Administration website. “The TSA officer may require this physical ID in addition to the digital ID.”
Where else can I use my digital ID?
With the iOS 16 release In June, apps that require age or identity verification should now be able to accept ID cards stored in your Apple Wallet app, Apple said. Uber Eats and car-sharing service Turo were cited as two apps that could potentially offer this functionality, according to MacRumors, but neither have officially done so.
Apple added that retailers, restaurants and other venues will make use of the feature in the future.
Currently, police or motor vehicle departments do not accept digital IDs.
I have an android phone. Can I upload my ID to Google Wallet?
In a December 2022 system update, Google announced that it was conducting a beta test that allows Android phone users to upload their driver’s licenses to Google Wallet “for convenient, private, and secure presentation.”
Google said the feature would be available in “select US states” but did not indicate which or when.
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