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Apple introduced driving license storage in the Wallet app in 2021 with iOS 15. Plus, TSA checkpoints accept it at select airports, and apps can access the data as of iOS 16. Here’s how and where it all works.
Arizona and Maryland were among the first to roll out support, with many more to follow. As of December 2021, there were 30 states working on digital licensing.
Driver’s license and State ID in Wallet are available on iPhone 8 or later with iOS 15.4 and Apple Watch Series 4 or later with watchOS 8.4 or later.
NFC readers and certain apps can access a license or status ID as soon as someone saves it in Apple Wallet. It works in much the same way as using Apple Pay.
Handing over an iPhone or Apple Watch to present the information digitally is not necessary. Only after authorization with Face ID or Touch ID, the user decides which information is shared. This information includes legal name, date of birth, gender, height, ID number, condition, issue date, expiration date, real ID status, and ID photo.
At WWDC 2022, Apple revealed that apps can use digital ID information for identity and age verification. Similar to a TSA checkpoint, the user reviews and consents to share the data using biometrics. The user verifies the transaction. For example, a person can hide their exact age while the app only knows that they are over 21.
Apple didn’t mention this during the keynote, but it’s possible that websites will one day gain access to digital ID information. For example, a web page could have this as its only method of age verification, eliminating ways in which someone could lie about their age. For example, minors trying to access a porn site.
Users can scan their physical ID or driver’s license into Apple Wallet, take a selfie for identity verification, and send the information to the state for approval. After approval, the ID will appear in the Wallet.
The Transport and Security Administration (TSA) is actively developing its digital ID scanning technologies. As a result, certain TSA PreCheck checkpoints in participating states accept digital IDs.
The agency says it is actively testing and evaluating digital IDs in the following states and airlines:
- American Airlines – American Airlines Digital ID on Android and iOS
- Arizona – Mobile Driver’s License in Apple Wallet
- Maryland – Mobile Driver’s License in Apple Wallet
- Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI)
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Gulfport Biloxi International Airport (GPT)
- Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Apple’s digital ID implementation supports the ISO 18013-5 mDL (mobile driver’s license) standard, which it helped develop. Other platforms, such as Android, can use this by default.
How Digital ID Scanners Work
The TSA says it will use CAT-2 units to support the phased rollout of digital IDs. Also known as Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), these devices can also scan and analyze photo IDs.
A CAT unit is electronically linked to a Secure Flight database to confirm travellers’ flight information. It also shows the pre-screening status, such as TSA PreCheck, for which the traveler is eligible.
A person can tap the CAT-2 reader with their iPhone or scan a QR code. An alert will appear on the phone summarizing the data shared with TSA, then the person will use Touch ID or Face ID to confirm.
The unit verifies a person’s identity by comparing the digital ID with the information they provided when booking their flight.
A live photo is also compared to the digital ID photo. Once verified, the traveler can proceed through the checkpoint. The TSA collects live photos and passenger data to analyze only during the evaluation period.
The data is anonymized, encrypted and transferred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) for brief analysis. DHS will delete the data within 24 months.
Travelers should carry a physical copy of their ID just in case. The agency says the DHS TSA Digital Identity Pilot Program is opt-in.