Arizona To Accept Digital Driver’s Licences On iPhones

Going digital. People with Apple iPhones in Arizona can now upload their driver’s licence or state ID to their Apple Wallet

Arizona has become the first US state to accept digital driver’s licences on Apple iPhones, with other US states expected to follow soon.

Apple confirmed that from Wednesday 23 March, “Arizonans can add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet, and tap their iPhone or Apple Watch to seamlessly and securely present it at select TSA security checkpoints in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.”

It comes after Apple last September said eight US states would begin offering a digital version of drivers’ licences via the Wallet app on Apple’s iPhone.

Digital State ID. Image credit Apple

Digital licence

The Apple Wallet it should be remembered allows users to store IDs, credit cards, loyalty cards and other items on an iPhone.

Apple first announced the state drivers’ licence feature at its WWDC developer conference in June 2021, along with other Wallet updates that would allow the app to hold a digital version of a user’s house keys, hotel room keys and workplace ID.

Arizona and Georgia were expected to be the first to offer the drivers’ licence feature, followed by Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah.

But Arizona has become the first US state to offer this digital ID feature.

“We’re thrilled to bring the first driver’s license and state ID in Wallet to Arizona today, and provide Arizonans with an easy, secure, and private way to present their ID when travelling, through just a tap of their iPhone or Apple Watch,” said Jennifer Bailey, VP of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.

“We look forward to working with many more states and the TSA to bring IDs in Wallet to users across the US,” said Bailey.

Besides the above mentioned US states, Apple also announced that additional US states will soon offer driver’s license and state ID in Wallet. This includes Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio, and the territory of Puerto Rico.

Apple said adding a driver’s license or state ID to Wallet can be done in a few simple steps:

Residents can tap the + button at the top of the screen in Wallet on their iPhone, select “Driver’s License or State ID,” and follow the on-screen instructions to start the setup and verification process.

Digital Driver Licence. Image credit Apple

To help ensure that the person adding the identity card to Wallet is the same person to whom the identity card belongs, the user will be asked to take a selfie and scan the front and back of their driver’s license or state ID card, which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification.

Digital Driver Licence. Image credit Apple

As an additional fraud prevention step, users will also be prompted to complete a series of facial and head movements during the setup process. The state is responsible for verifying and approving the user’s request to add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet.

Once added to Wallet, users can present their driver’s license or state ID to the TSA at participating airport security checkpoints by simply tapping their iPhone or Apple Watch at the identity reader.

Apple said on their iPhone or Apple Watch, users will be shown which information is requested by the TSA, and can consent to provide it with Face ID or Touch ID, without having to unlock their iPhone or show their ID card. All information is shared digitally, so users do not need to show or hand over their device to present their ID. The TSA will also capture a picture of the traveller for verification purposes.

Driver’s license and state ID in Wallet is available on iPhone 8 or later running iOS 15.4, and Apple Watch Series 4 or later running watchOS 8.4 or later.

Privacy concerns

But Apple will still have to overcome some privacy concerns, as civil liberties groups remain wary of digital IDs.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation for example has previously said digital licences could be “a big step towards national identification, in which every time we walk through a door or buy coffee, a record of the event is collected and aggregated”.

The EFF said the digital licences could also “make demands for ID more frequent in American life”.

“They may also lead to the routine use of automated or ‘robot’ ID checks carried out not by humans but by machines, causing such demands to proliferate even more,” the group said.

Meanwhile on this side of the pond in the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in 2017 said that British drivers could be carrying their licenses on their smartphone by 2018.