You can put your driver’s license on your iPhone. Here’s how

From Southwest to United, most airlines allow you to travel with a digital version of your boarding pass. And now some states let residents through airport security with a digital version of their driver’s license, too. Instead of digging through your bag, just flash your Apple Wallet on you iPhone or Apple Watch.

“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 not quite a universal game changer just yet: While 12 states have committed to digital IDs, only three have officially started accepting them. And while the airport you’re departing from may accept a license on your Apple Watch, you may not get the same courtesy on the return journey.

Read more: Homeland Security postpones deadline for real ID at airports

The Transportation Security Administration is already supporting the technology at certain airport security checkpoints. So it’s really a matter of when, not if the option will become standard nationwide.

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. For more information about travel, visit the eleven things that should be on everyone’s travel checklist and the difference between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

How do I add my driver’s license to my Apple Wallet?

Apple wallet
To add an ID to your Apple Wallet, tap the plus button at the top of the screen.

Dan Avery/CNET

Apple built 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 the “plus” button at the top of the screen in Wallet. (If you have an Apple Watch paired to your iPhone, you’ll also be prompted to add your license there.)

You then scan your physical driver’s license with your iPhone’s camera and snap a selfie, “which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification,” according to Apple.

You will also be asked to perform a series of facial and head movements “as an extra security step”.

Once your ID has been verified by the issuing state, it will be added to your Wallet.

To be able to add your license or ID to Apple Wallet, it must be issued by a participating state. In addition you need:

  • An iPhone 8 or later, or an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, with the latest iOS version or WatchOS
  • Face ID or Touch ID enabled
  • An Apple ID with two-factor authentication enabled
  • Your device region is set to US
Driver's license program in Apple Wallet

For now, only residents of Arizona, Colorado, and Maryland can upload their licenses.

Dan Avery/CNET

Also only passengers with TSA pre-check eligible to flash digital licenses on their boarding pass, according to the TSA websitethough 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 a paired Apple Watch at a time.

Which airports accept digital IDs?

Apple initially announced in 2021 that eight states participated in the program, but brought the number to 12 this year.

But those are states dedicated to accept Apple Wallet IDs, not currently.

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
  • Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International 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 specific timelines have not been announced.

Other states are expected to join this list: Last year, Bailey said Apple was “already in talks with many more states.”

And in November, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles said it was “exploring” the digital ID option.

“There is a condition that a study committee has been established on the idea and they are still investigating,” said spokeswoman Maranda Williams. told The Statea news outlet in Columbia, South Carolina.

Aside from Apple’s efforts, some states are allowing residents to upload their driver’s licenses to their phones through state-run apps, such as Louisiana’s LA Wallet. But these are for driving and age verification and are not yet accepted by TSA.

TSA screen on an iPhone


How do I use a license stored in my Apple Wallet with TSA?

To present your digital ID, tap the identity reader at the security checkpoint with your iPhone or Apple Watch.

You will then be asked to verify your identification with Face ID or Touch ID.

If successful, a check mark should appear on the screen.

According to Apple“you don’t need to unlock, show or hand over your device [to a TSA agent].”

Is this technology safe?

According to Apple, yes.

The company says the program uses the same privacy and security features already in the iPhone and Apple Watch to prevent tampering and theft.

“Your driver’s license or state ID information has been encrypted,” a statement read on the Apple Support website. “Neither the state issuer 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 view and use your license or ID. ”

The TSA has also approved digital IDs.

“Digital identity has the ability to strengthen airport security and improve the passenger experience by reducing touchpoints, providing greater privacy and more accurately verifying IDs,” the agency said in a statement.

My state accepts digital IDs. Do I still need my physical permit at the airport?

Yes. The program is still in its infancy, and there’s no guarantee that the checkpoint you’re using will be set up to accept a driver’s license on your Apple Wallet.

“All passengers must have their physical driver’s licenses readily available,” the Transportation Security Administration’s website said. “The TSA officer may need this physical ID in addition to the digital ID.”

Where else can I use my digital ID?

With the 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 car-sharing service Turo were mentioned as two apps that could potentially provide this functionality, according to MacRumorsbut neither has officially done so.

Apple added that retailers, restaurants and other locations will take advantage of the feature in the future.

Digital IDs are not currently accepted by the police or motor vehicle departments.

I have an Android phone. Can I upload my ID to Google Wallet?

In a December 2022 system updateGoogle announced it was in beta testing allowing Android phone users to upload their driver’s licenses to Google Wallet “for an easy, private, and secure presentation.”

Google said the feature would be available in “select US states,” but didn’t specify which or when.

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