U.S. States to Support Digital Driver’s Licenses in Apple Wallet

Posted on September 1, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Mobile, iOS, Apple Watch with 40 Comments

Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah are bringing state IDs and driver’s licenses to Apple Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch.

“The addition of driver’s licenses and state IDs to Apple Wallet is an important step in our vision of replacing the physical wallet with a secure and easy-to-use mobile wallet,” Apple vice president Jennifer Bailey said. “We are excited that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and so many states are already on board to help bring this to life for travelers across the country using only their iPhone and Apple Watch, and we are already in discussions with many more states as we’re working to offer this nationwide in the future.”

According to Apple, users will be able to securely add their driver’s license or state IDs to Apple Wallet on iPhone and Apple Watch. And the TSA is opening up “select airport security checkpoints and lanes in participating airports” as the first locations that users will be able to use these digital IDs. The state that issued the ID will need to offer this capability to its residents before they can use it on their iPhone or Apple Watch.

Apple being Apple, it also provided a quick overview of the privacy implications of this addition, including the fact that Apple and the issuing states will not know when or where users present their IDs. This user identity data is encrypted and users can use biometric authentication systems like Face ID and Touch ID to keep it protected.

Apple expects to announce many more states participating in this program in the near future.

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Comments (40)

40 responses to “U.S. States to Support Digital Driver’s Licenses in Apple Wallet”

  1. mattbg

    But not Apple's home state?

  2. harrymyhre

    What about people who don't have iphones?

  3. dkkazak

    In Colorado, we have an app based system for driver's licenses. It is actually nice as you don't have to give your phone to the police, you just scan a QR code and it will send the info to their car.

    • tghallin

      As another Coloradan, I like that the MyColorado app also stores vehicle registrations, insurance cards, other Colorado licenses and passes. and your Covid vaccination card. Since the state already has this information, it is nice to group it all in one state app. A key to the MyColorado app is how they verify your information using facial recognition match to your ID photo as the final check.

      I expect that other states realize that a high percentage of their people have an iPhone, so working with Apple makes sense.

  4. crunchyfrog

    After having my Apple wallet hacked last year, I'm not so sure about this just yet. Imagine if they steal your credit cards and your license and passport.

    • mi1984

      I wasn't using my identity much anyway

    • lvthunder

      How was your Apple Wallet hacked?

    • pecosbob04

      How did that occur? I use Apple wallet often and if there is a vulnerability that I am unaware of I certainly would appreciate any information you could give us that would allow me to mitigate the exposure. I haven't seen any articles highlighting the issue and it seems odd that Paul of all pundits wouldn't have let us know about an Apple vulnerability as that is one of his favorite things.

    • behindmyscreen

      The wallet app on your phone that keeps all the data on the phone?

  5. mi1984

    Well I guess the information is already online, I mean that's how I renew it.

    Just think if you need a digital id to prove who you are ?

    Anyone can print a card

  6. harrymyhre

    And if you drop your phone in a mud puddle while handing it to the policeman?

    I wish I could draw cartoons.

  7. SAPaleAle

    I live in South Australia and have been using a digital license for over 3 years. They still issue with a "normal" license which you can carry as well but I generally leave that home. Never had an issue with a digital license.

  8. ghostrider

    Apple don't do anything unless it benefits them, so they've likely done this to attract more customers to their platform and to have access to more personal data, but then it's clear that some states are so far up Apple's shirt tails already there won't be any room for any more companies offering this type of 'service'.

  9. rm

    Hopefully Apple can never make use of this information and it is stored using open standards so you can easily transfer this information to a non-Apple phone in the future. Otherwise, it is just another lock in the creates another barrier to exit Apple's system.

    • zcarter68w

      I'm not sure how you would be locked in. If I switch to Android, worst-case scenario, I add my license to the new phone just like I did on the iPhone. If you use this feature on the iPhone, that doesn't become the only instance of your license and Apple stops you from putting your license on a different phone if you change to an Android.

  10. mi1984

    You cannot get transportation because Siri does not remember you.

    You cannot vote because Siri does not remember you.

  11. jgraebner

    It really bothers me that state governments are working with a single company's proprietary technology for this, particularly a company known for locking their services to their own hardware. This absolutely should be an open standard.

    • behindmyscreen

      Nice talking out your rear. Aged like milk.

    • davidgeller

      Why are you assuming it won't be an open standard? I'm 100% sure this isn't proprietary and State governments aren't creating something only Apple can use. It's just that Apple is the only company that has their shit together on this front. This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity and will certainly lead to the other platform adopting it, in time. Teenagers in 5-10 years time can forget about using fake IDs to buy alcohol...

      • jgraebner

        If Apple were part of a coalition creating an open standard for this, it seems to me that they would have said so...

        • Chris_Kez

          They did, in the linked press release:

          • Apple’s mobile ID implementation supports the ISO 18013-5 mDL (mobile driver’s license) standard which Apple has played an active role in the development of, and which sets clear guidelines for the industry around protecting consumers’ privacy when presenting an ID or driver’s license through a mobile device.

      • jgraebner

        And, yes, I would imagine that Google, Samsung, and possibly others will offer this service as well. My concern is that it will all be on different, proprietary technologies, with what devices are supported potentially varying from state to state.

        • lvthunder

          It'll be like Contactless Payments. The reader TSA in this case will need to support them all.

    • cavalier_eternal

      This absolutely should be an open standard.”

      It already is. This isn’t something Apple created it’s Apple’s implementation of ISO 18013-5 mDL (mobile driver’s license).

  12. fishnet37222

    I actually prefer a physical license card that I can hand over to the police without giving them access to my phone. That's also why I still request a physical insurance card from Geico.

    • Kendog52361

      From what I've been seeing for the past several months on Iowa's Driver License Site, it doesn't replace your physical drivers license. From what I understand it, you download the app from the app store, it takes a photo of your physical license, and that's how it "get's in the phone".

    • jason_e

      From my understanding you will not have to hand over your phone. They will be able to scan your ID with a device and it pull up the relevant data.

  13. red.radar

    I can't wait for the stories of the clueless who travel but leave the physical ID at home. They loose access to their phone .... and here comes the special interest sob story of someone stranded.

    I don't like how critical and important the smart phone is becoming to our daily lives.

    • crunchyfrog

      And to add to that; you end up in a state or even a country that refuses to accept your digital ID. Then what? I see lots of years passing before this becomes an accepted standard.

  14. stmorr82zw5zml

    How do the police, TSA, licensed venues, etc interact with digital IDs? They should be issued with NFC-capable readers that people can tap to present their license so they’re not forced to unlock their phone and hand it over so an officer/ agent/ security can then “review” the ID.

    • cavalier_eternal

      From the press release:

      “Once added to Wallet, customers can present their driver’s license or state ID to the TSA by simply tapping their iPhone or Apple Watch at the identity reader. Upon tapping their iPhone or Apple Watch, customers will see a prompt on their device displaying the specific information being requested by the TSA. Only after authorizing with Face ID or Touch ID is the requested identity information released from their device, which ensures that just the required information is shared and only the person who added the driver’s license or state ID to the device can present it. Users do not need to unlock, show, or hand over their device to present their ID.”

    • lvthunder

      If I remember that's how it works. Just like Apple Pay. You don't hand your phone over so the checker can look at the screen.

    • davidgeller

      That's an excellent point - and it could very well work the same way the quick pass NFC thing works for metro systems. I used my iPhone in NYC recently and could pay for bus and subway rides without unlocking my phone. Worked beautifully.

  15. Brett Barbier

    It's always funny to see people not reading the article (which Paul linked to on the word "said"), yet think they know all of the details.