You know how it is…you’re at the airport, you’ve got your carry on bag in one hand, a Starbucks venti Iced White Chocolate Mocha in the other, AND you’re pushing the baby stroller. You’re in the TSA security line, and now you’ve got to dig through your bag to find your wallet so you can get out your driver’s license or other state I.D.

Select passengers in Arizona won’t have to do that anymore.

The state has been chosen to be the first of the 50 to collaborate with Apple to integrate electronic driver’s licenses and state IDs with Apple’s Wallet App. As of March 23, users have been able to travel through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)’s TSA checkpoint just by tapping their iPhone or Apple Watch.

The virtual ID has all of the information contained on a standard state ID or driver’s license, as well as detailed face recognition scans, fingerprints, and an unidentified list of other information that the TSA specifically requested. According to Apple, all the user has to do is agree to supply any information the TSA requires using their device’s Face ID or Touch ID capability (Face/touch recognition? So you know biometrics is taking a part, as well).

Heads up that the TSA still recommends you have a hard copy of your I.D.with you, “just in case.” You’ll also need that actual hard I.D. if you fly back to PHX since for now, it’s the only airport in the country that’s in the program. 😉

The history

TSA introduced the concept of the mobile driver’s license in April 2021.

In September, 2021, Apple officials announced that Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah would be the first states to bring state IDs and driver’s licenses in Apple Wallet to their residents.

In the same statement, officials with Apple announced that the TSA would allow the feature to be used at security checkpoints and lanes in participating airports.

That time has come. 🙂

Now & the future

For now, this new capability will be available only at PHX for TSA PreCheck passengers from Arizona. To use the feature, passengers must add their Arizona-issued state driver’s license or state ID to Apple Wallet (I don’t think there’s a version of Apple Wallet for Android phones at this time. Sorry, Android fans).

Although the process is only available at PHX right now, it will eventually be expanded to other airports in Arizona (keep an eye out, Tucson International Airport!). After that, the new technology is expected to be introduced in Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio, and Puerto Rico, along with the seven states Apple had previously announced.

As for the more distant future, well, 9to5Mac reported in December, 2021 that as per data compiled by the Secure Technology Alliance, nearly 30 states and 2 territories were exploring support for Apple’s digital ID in Wallet:

  • Alabama

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Illinois

  • Iowa

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Maryland

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • North Carolina

  • North Dakota

  • Oklahoma

  • Pennsylvania

  • Puerto Rico

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Virginia

  • Washington D.C.

  • Wyoming

You can go to this page of Secure Technology Alliance’s website to learn a little more about the status of these plans in the United States and Canada.

I’m in Arizona – how can I sign up?

You’ll need to have an iPhone 8 or later with iOS 15.4 installed. For Apple Watch, you’ll need to have an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, with watchOS 8.4 or later versions installed. Of course, your Apple Watch will have to be paired with your iPhone.

Officials with Apple released instructions on how to add your ID to Apple Wallet:

  • Tap the + symbol in the Wallet app and select your state

  • Scan the front and back of your ID

  • Follow Apple’s steps to confirm it’s you

  • Send to the state for approval

It’s recommended you do this process well before you get to the airport 😉

Also remember that for now, the process is only available for those with Arizona I.D.

I’m from AZ and am going to be at PHX – how do I use it?

When you get to the TSA PreCheck lane, hold your Apple device near the TSA’s identity reader. The TSA security officer will then verify your identity and flight status, “…for a secure, fast, convenient, and touchless identity verification experience.”

The Arizona Department of Traffic (ADOT) has further instructions, as well as more general information about the program on this page of their website.

Apple has some info about IDs in Wallet on this page of their website.

And finally, here’s the TSA’s press release about the whole thing.

Feature Photo: Apple

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