How to Upload Your Driver’s License to Your iPhone

If you’re traveling over the holidays, there’s a lot to keep track of as you rush through the airport: your tickets, your boarding pass, your luggage, your loved ones—and of course, your ID.

Almost all airlines allow you to use a digital version of your boarding pass, but now some states allow residents to keep their driver’s license or other recognized identification in their Apple wallet, so they just flash their iPhones — or Apple Watch. rather than through their pocketbooks to root their ID.

Apple announced the initiative in 2021 to upgrade the technology in iOS 15 for iPhone.

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“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 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 while the airport you’re departing from may accept a driver’s license on your Apple Watch, you may not be extended the same courtesy on the return trip.

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But the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) already supports the technology at select airport 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 more accurately verifying IDs,” the agency said in a statement. So it’s really a question of when, not if the option will become standard in 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.

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

Adding a driver’s license or other state ID is similar to adding new credit cards to your Apple Wallet.

First, tap the “+” button at the top of the wallet screen. (If you have paired an Apple Watch with your iPhone, it will also ask you to add your license there.)

Apple Wallet

Dan Avery/CNET

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

You will also be asked to complete a series of facial and head movements “as an additional safety measure.”

Once your ID has been 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 by 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 enabled
  • An Apple ID with two-factor authentication enabled
  • Your device region is set to the United States

Also only passengers TSA PreCheck on their boarding pass are eligible to flash digital licenses, according to the TSA website, although 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.

Driver's license program and Apple Wallet

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

Dan Avery/CNET

Which states accept a digital driver’s license on an iPhone?

Apple originally announced in 2021 that eight states would participate in the program, then the number increased to 12 this year. But these are states that are committed to accepting Apple Wallet IDs, not the current ones.

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 that Apple was “already in discussions with many more states.”

In November, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles said it was “exploiting” the digital ID option.

“There is a caveat that a study committee has created on the idea and they are still researching it,” spokeswoman Maranda Williams told The State, a Columbia, South Carolina, news outlet.

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

TSA screen on an iPhone

Apple

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 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. An explanation on Apple’s support website says that 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 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 with 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 your Apple Wallet.

“All passengers must continue to have their physical driver’s license available,” 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 the Rollout of iOS 16 in June, apps that require age or identity verification should now accept ID cards stored in your Apple Wallet app, Apple said.

Uber Eats and the car-share service Turo have been 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 use 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 a convenient, private and secure presentation.”

While the company said the feature would be available in “select US state(s),” it did not specify which ones or when.

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