How to upload your driver’s license to your iPhone
If you’re traveling during the holidays, there’s a lot to keep track of as you race through the airport: your tickets, your boarding pass, your luggage, your loved ones—and, of course, your ID.
Almost all airlines let you use a digital version of your boarding pass to board, but now some states are allowing residents to keep their driver’s license or other recognized identification in Apple Wallet, so they can just flash their iPhones — or Apple Watch — instead to rummage through their wallets for their ID.
Apple announced the initiative in 2021, and built the technology into iOS 15 for iPhone.
“The addition of driver’s license 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 at the time.
It’s not quite a universal game changer yet: While 12 states have committed to allowing digital IDs, only three have officially begun accepting them.
And even if the airport you’re departing from may accept a driver’s license on Apple Watch, you may not receive the same courtesy on your return journey.
But the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) already supports the technology at select security checkpoints at participating airports.
“Digital identity has the ability to strengthen airport security and improve the passenger experience by reducing touchpoints, providing greater privacy and verifying IDs more accurately,” the agency said in a statement. So it’s really a question of when, not if the option will become standard nationwide.
Here’s what you need to know about putting your driver’s license in Apple Wallet, including how to do it and which states recognize digital IDs.
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How do I add my driver’s license to Apple Wallet?
Adding a driver’s license or other state ID is similar to adding new credit cards to Apple Wallet.
First, tap the “+” button at the top of the Wallet screen. (If you have an Apple Watch connected to your iPhone, it will ask you to add your license there as well.)
You’ll then scan their physical driver’s license with the iPhone camera and take a selfie, “which will be provided to the issuing state for verification,” according to Apple.
You’ll also be asked to complete a series of facial and head movements “as an extra security step.”
Once your ID is verified by the state that issued it, it will be added to your Wallet.
To add your license or ID to Apple Wallet, it must be issued from a participating state. In addition, you will need:
- An iPhone 8 or later, or an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, running the latest version of iOS or watchOS.
- Face ID or Touch ID is turned on.
- An Apple ID with two-factor authentication is turned on.
- Your device region is set to United States.
Also, only passengers with TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass are eligible to flash 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 an iPhone and paired Apple Watch at a time.
Which states accept a digital driver’s license on an iPhone?
Apple initially announced in 2021 that eight states were participating in the program, then increased the number to 12 this year. But there are states that are mandated to accept Apple Wallet IDs, not the ones that currently do.
Only Arizona, Colorado and Maryland currently support the digital identification 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 committed to supporting the initiative, as has Puerto Rico, although specific timetables have not been announced.
Other states are expected to join this list soon: Last year, Bailey said Apple was “already in discussions with many more states.”
In November, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles said it was “exploring” the digital ID option.
“There’s a caveat that created a study committee on the idea, and they’re still under research,” spokeswoman Maranda Williams told The State, a Columbia, South Carolina, outlet.
Separate from Apple’s efforts, some states allow residents to upload their driver’s licenses to their phones through state apps, such as Louisiana’s LA Wallet. But these are for driving and age verification purposes and are not accepted by TSA yet.
How do I use a license stored in Apple Wallet at TSA?
To present your digital ID, tap your iPhone or Apple Watch on the identity reader at the security checkpoint.
You will then be asked 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 hand over your device [to a TSA agent].”
Is this technology safe?
According to Apple, it is. A statement on the Apple Support website says the program uses the same privacy and security features already found in the iPhone and Apple Watch to prevent tampering and theft.
“Your driver’s license or state ID data is encrypted,” it said. “Neither the government issuing authority nor Apple can see when and where you use your license or ID, and biometric authentication using Face ID and Touch ID helps ensure that only you can see and use your license or ID. ”
If 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 TSA agent you meet will be able to accept a driver’s license on Apple Wallet.
“All passengers must continue to have their physical driver’s license readily available,” the TSA said on its website. “The TSA officer may require this physical ID in addition to the digital ID.”
Where else can I use my digital ID?
With rollout of iOS 16 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 ride-sharing service Turo were cited as two apps that could potentially offer this functionality, according to MacRumors, but neither has officially done so.
Apple also said that retailers, restaurants and other places will make use of the feature in the future.
I have an Android phone. Can I upload my ID to Google Wallet?
In a December 2022 system update, Google announced that it was beta testing allowing Android phone users to upload their driver’s licenses to Google Wallet “for convenient, private and secure presentation”.
Although the company said the feature would be available in “select US state(s),” it did not indicate which ones or when.
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