Coming Soon: Use Your iPhone As ID At Airport TSA Checkpoints

62

This has the potential to be pretty cool… I think?

State IDs are soon coming to Apple Wallets

During Apple’s annual developer conference, some cool innovations were announced, especially as it impacts the Apple Wallet feature. If you’re a frequent traveler, odds are that you’ve used Apple Wallet for everything from airline mobile boarding passes to hotel elite cards.

Apple is now working on integrating government issued identification into Apple Wallet. With this, iPhone users will be able to scan their state IDs and driver’s licenses into the digital wallet. This feature is expected to roll out this fall, when iOS 15 debuts.

Of course it’s one thing to be able to scan your ID onto your smartphone, but it’s a whole different matter to have that counted as valid for situations where you need identification. Apple is expecting that “participating” states will permit this to be a valid form of identification. Furthermore, Apple is working with the Transportation Security Administration to enable the ability to use a digital ID at airport checkpoints.

How an Apple digital ID could be used at the airport

Could this slow down the screening process?

In general I love the concept of being able to store my state ID digitally:

  • It’s nice not to have to worry about taking your physical ID with you everywhere
  • There’s always the risk of losing your physical ID, so being able to store it on your phone mitigates that risk
  • While I can appreciate why some people might have security concerns, personally I don’t, because, well, so many companies already have so much information about me, and worrying about that seems like a lost cause

That being said, am I the only one who wonders if at some point this will slow down the airport experience? If passengers have both their boarding pass and state ID stored in Apple Wallet, I feel like it will potentially add several seconds to the screening process. While that might not sound bad on an individual level, when you multiply it by the number of people being screened, it seems like it could add up.

Then there’s the other issue of this only being valid in select states, so this will definitely create some confusion in states where it isn’t accepted.

Then again, it’ll be nice not to have to find a place to store your ID after your ID has been checked and before you go through the screening checkpoint, so there is that advantage.

You may soon be able to clear TSA checkpoints with a digital ID

Bottom line

Starting later this year it should be possible to store select state IDs in your Apple Wallet, meaning you’ll have a government-issued digital ID. This is an exciting innovation in general, though perhaps most exciting is that you could use this to clear TSA checkpoints, as Apple is working with the TSA to implement this.

It sure would be nice to be able to clear security checkpoints without having to take an ID out of your (physical) wallet, though I do wonder if this will slow things down.

What do you make of the prospect of using an Apple Wallet-stored ID to clear TSA checkpoints? Would you use it?

Conversations (62)
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  1. achen24

    I'm a little more interested in seeing if the Global Entry would be compatible here as that is most likely what I would use for my RealID

    1. Globe Trekker

      Usually, Global Entry required just a passport and the card is not required. Now if the passport can be added to your phone, that would be interesting.

    2. BradB312

      Yes, the card itself is useless for entering the country by air, but it is a real id for tsa purposes. You could travel domestically with a global entry card and no state id.

    3. bchavez

      In my experience, the Global Entry card cannot be used as an ID. I've tried to use it as my id for domestic travel but TSA does not accept them

    4. zow

      I have used my GE card at TSA checkpoints in LAX, BOS, and elsewhere, with no difficulty. Done it dozens of times.

    5. Chris

      They should have. The GE card is a valid ID at a domestic TSA checkpoint.

      (Source: I've been with TSA since 2002)

  2. Sel, D.

    Often TSA requires only ID and no boarding pass these days with their new technology. If this continues to be the case I don’t see a slowdown based on people needing to show two things from the same device. Boomers will likely continue to use physical ID cards.

  3. derek

    I would not use it except for emergencies. I don't want to risk having to temporarily surrender the phone to the guard.

  4. Doug

    The ACLU has written a white paper listing a number of concerns that digital IDs create. It is worth reading and available here: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/20210517-digitallicense.pdf
    I don't agree with everything they write but it is worth considering the cost before we simply jump at the next convenient loss of privacy.

    1. Kaleb_With_A_K

      You are carrying a smartphone, use Google, Facebook and other social media sites and are worried about losing privacy? LMAO.

  5. Greg Simmons

    We’re headed to the SS#/mobile# issued at birth and remaining with you forever scenario. Some years later, it will just be an RFID chip implanted at birth..

  6. LouB

    Since it’s very cumbersome to get a Real ID in my state, if this project could include using a Passport image, it would be very helpful.

  7. AlanT98

    I'm more worried about what happens if you loose your phone or it gets stolen, will somebody else be able to use my identity if they get my phone?

    1. Peter

      How is that any different than losing your plastic ID? At least with a phone you can wipe it remotely and deactivate it.

    2. AlanT98

      That at least with the physical ID, its hard to know what thing i have and what i don't, and if they don't look like me they can't hardly do anything. If they have my phone and a virtual ID, they will probably have easy access to everything, my socials, my accounts, etc. Plus I'm guessing it will only work as easy QR scan code and that's it. Also how i will deactivate my phone if they have that plus my virtual ID?

    3. Ron

      Maybe locking your phone and having a secure password other than 1234 would help.

    4. To Clarify

      Peter, phone thieves already know that phones can be wiped/deactivated remotely. So you can rest assured that if they want to extract files off your phone, that phone gets turned off as soon as they get it, then they will jam/block a phone's connection thereby not allowing it to connect online whenit is turned back on and as a result, it does not receive your wipe request, until after they backed up the device data.

      ...

      Peter, phone thieves already know that phones can be wiped/deactivated remotely. So you can rest assured that if they want to extract files off your phone, that phone gets turned off as soon as they get it, then they will jam/block a phone's connection thereby not allowing it to connect online whenit is turned back on and as a result, it does not receive your wipe request, until after they backed up the device data.

      But to directly answer your question about the difference between this and losing the actual ID.... Government issued ID'S have holograms on them that make them impossible to duplicate and forge.

      An image of your same ID that I could manipulate by cutting and pasting my picture over yours, then uploading that image as my ID IS extremely difficult to detect and much easier to use in identity theft.

    5. Milo

      If you don't lock your phone, then seriously you have no business storing anything sensitive on your phone.

      QR code scan? LOL

  8. Dina

    If you worry about a place to keep id's you can buy phone cases that will store id's and credit cards. I use spigen which is a slim case and can store 2 to 3 cards. with a sliding back panel. It's easy to use at airport for checking in and you can't tell by looking at it that cards are stored in it. There's quite a few varieties of phone cases where you might not need a wallet anymore.

  9. Dana

    "There’s always the risk of losing your physical ID, so being able to store it on your phone mitigates that risk"
    Yes, but it will be much worse if you lose your phone, and have NO other ID on you.

  10. Chico Liz

    In Brazil, we have for years now an official app for our driving licenses that is considered a valid ID for all purposes, including at airports. But it’s nice to have seamless integration with wallet, I guess

    1. minervamaga

      That's super helpful! So many times I need to input my license number (either professional licenses or drivers) and have to go physically dig up the card. Wish we had that...

  11. imnothammer

    I share the same concern as Derek. I would be interested to know if the procedure involves actually turning over possession of your phone or if you can simply present it (maybe as you might scan a boarding pass)? If the procedure involves turning over your phone I will just stick with the presenting the physical ID.

    1. To Clarify

      If a customs/TSA agent asks you for your phone, with or without this app/feature, you are required to hand it over.

  12. JOHN

    And what about the extra time to open a locked screen, locate the files, open, scan and close three now- boarding pass, ID and vaccine certificate...

    1. KK13

      What now?
      You don't seem to have heard of or used the "Wallet" on your iPhone, my guess?

    2. minervamaga

      Most of us don't use iPhones at all actually. Android holds the majority of users by far. John, on Android at least, you can access Google Pay (the equivalent to the Apple Wallet app) by holding down your power button to get to a special quick menu. So not a lot of digging to find what you need, even if you are (for example) reading Ben's blog while in line

  13. Amol

    TSA has already stopped looking at these things manually and scanning licenses. If it means I can leave my wallet in my bag while scanning my phone or watch only, it’s an improvement.

  14. Mona Lisa

    I'm confused ,I don't know how to set this up?
    I will have to carry my passport/ ID, who can help
    me? I'm a senior

    1. fAAnboy

      This isn't actually a thing yet. Apple just announced a framework for it in their wallet app. States will need to create a way to link their systems with Apple Wallet, TSA will need to install NFC readers at their airports, etc. This will take a long time to fully roll out, and even then I cannot see it being mandatory. Just show your Real ID and Boarding Pass (although they might not need it) for the moment.

  15. Steve

    Some of the comments remind me of what people said when boarding passes first were introduced on our phones. And yes people thought that was a bad idea haha.

  16. WINSTON WOLFE

    The writer is concerned with the added time of double clicking on the side button on phone? What about people fumbling around their wallet and/or purse looking for ID. Seems like a net time savings...

  17. john

    "Then there’s the other issue of this only being valid in select states, so this will definitely create some confusion in states where it isn’t accepted."

    I don't think states control TSA ID requirements. That's at the federal level. If the TSA says it's ok then presumably it would be OK at any airport. The issue would be rental cars or getting pulled over. Then again, if it's a valid FL license and FL says...

    "Then there’s the other issue of this only being valid in select states, so this will definitely create some confusion in states where it isn’t accepted."

    I don't think states control TSA ID requirements. That's at the federal level. If the TSA says it's ok then presumably it would be OK at any airport. The issue would be rental cars or getting pulled over. Then again, if it's a valid FL license and FL says it's ok to have it on your phone, I'm not sure GA can say otherwise to a visitor passing through from FL.

    1. EC2

      No state is going to allow a digital copy of a driver’s license. This option is for the ones that like have their boarding pass scanned. They’re still going to be carrying an ID regardless for car rentals, losing or damaging phone, etc. It’s just to save a a minute or two to dig out your license or ID. Has no value for international travel where you have to still have to dig out passport...

      No state is going to allow a digital copy of a driver’s license. This option is for the ones that like have their boarding pass scanned. They’re still going to be carrying an ID regardless for car rentals, losing or damaging phone, etc. It’s just to save a a minute or two to dig out your license or ID. Has no value for international travel where you have to still have to dig out passport at airport. Just saving a couple of minutes at TSA security checkpoint.

      For all those that say we have given up privacy. True to a certain extent, but I don’t want to scan a copy of my license or ID that had a copy of my signature on it.

  18. Daniel D

    Only Apple Wallet, not Google Pay? I may be interested when they expand it to Android phones. It means I don't need to take out my wallet at all at security which would be slick.

    1. Globe Trekker

      Pretty sure Google is going to match this soon. Where one of them goes, so does the other.

    2. minervamaga

      The other part is bringing it to FitbitOS and WearOS. I can already load my boarding pass on my watch, being to able to have both on there to quickly scan would be amazing. As long as they aren't wanting you to physically hand over the device.

  19. Feldy

    Re: concern of having to pull up boarding pass and ID at checkpoint, at my home airport (HNL) you no longer present boarding pass to TSA (the system pulls it up for them when they scan your ID); I assume this would use that same system so you’d only be presenting ID.

  20. Eskimo

    State ID in iPhones.
    Apple Watch tracking vitals.
    Air Tags to pinpoint location +- 0.1 feet.
    Siri eavesdrop.
    Government backdoor into phones.

    The world's first effective global surveillance that can positive ID anyone anywhere. And the victims doesn't even realize it yet.

    Forget about Nigerian prince.

    1. Milo

      You don't have to store State ID in iPhones.
      You don't have to use an Apple Watch.
      You don't have to use Air Tags.
      You don't have to turn on "Hey Siri".
      You do have a choice.

      Unless of course if you live in Communist China, then you have no choice.

      Actually, I take that back. You still do. It's called fleeing the country. Tens of millions already have.

    2. Eskimo

      "And the victims doesn't even realize it yet." again.

      This is the thing that China needs to improve, Russia is doing a better job, and USA has mastered it.
      Give people the illusion of freedom.
      Snowden already leaked it.
      Cambridge Analytica already gave us one President.

      Freedom died long time ago in the interest of national security. We all have to accept that. I still use an iPhone and don't care because...

      "And the victims doesn't even realize it yet." again.

      This is the thing that China needs to improve, Russia is doing a better job, and USA has mastered it.
      Give people the illusion of freedom.
      Snowden already leaked it.
      Cambridge Analytica already gave us one President.

      Freedom died long time ago in the interest of national security. We all have to accept that. I still use an iPhone and don't care because there isn't anything I can do. But that doesn't mean I ignore what is going on behind me.
      This whole ID thing just made their jobs a lot easier for both US and foreign governments.

  21. Lindie

    It's not going to work at most airports. Tsa has new technology that requires a physical i.d. to slide through a reader which in turn runs it through Secure Flight..No boarding pass needed, unless one isn't available like with children... Homeland Security spent millions on this technology

  22. Lexi

    At McCarran, TSA is currently testing technology that only requires presentation of ID, which will be scanned and automatically matched up with a valid boarding pass. With these two pieces of tech combined, I can imagine it will only save time.

  23. davidciani

    Apple already has the capability to present multiple passes at the same time in the context of an Apple Pay transaction with a credit card + a loyalty card (Walgreens and Coca Cola Vending rewards). They might leverage this to simultaneously present the boarding pass and the ID to the TSA via NFC. Probably would need integration on the airline side too to make that work.

  24. Z the tsa guy

    Unfortunately your news is a little wrong ,because the devices either accepts just the id's or the other old devices accept both Unfortunately either they have to invent a new device that verifies the phone as an ID or it will take a longer time to process you so guys why don't you just bring your passport

  25. EC2

    No thanks. Already use my driver’s license as my ID and because of car rentals would or driving I always carry it. My state offers a state ID, but not going to apply for it for such a useless reason.

  26. Shelia

    It’s hard getting a signal sometimes at the airport. What if your phone battery dies or you drop and break it. Crazy things happens at the last minute that can throw your whole trip off.

  27. A-

    Willingly Hands over unlocked phone
    Phone scanned
    *Beeps* person of interest/no fly list/warrant/unpaid parking ticket/whatever
    Retains completely unlocked phone that you willingly handed over

    I'll pass thanks.

    (the ' iF y0u'Ve doNe n0ThiNg wR0nG y0u HaVE noThiNg t0 fEAr' gang can jog on)

    1. MKLDH

      Besides your conspiracy non sense, I bet you never used an iPhone before eh? No need to completely unlock your phone show your wallet item.

  28. fAAnboy

    My guess is that the system that will read the Apple Wallet IDs will use TSAs Credential Authentication Technology, which compares your ID info with the Secure Flight info from the flight manifests to verify you are actually flying. It won't be necessary to open both your ID and Mobile Boarding Pass

  29. Joe Banks

    TSA has a written-in-stone policy that states "no digital or photocopies of government identification are acceptable forms of ID." You must present your physical state or federal issued ID to pass TSA security. This article is an opinion piece since it does not include a statement from TSA saying Apple digital IDs will be accepted. I can state this because I am a Federal officer with TSA.

    1. Milo

      According to the head of Apple Pay, "... the Transportation Security Administration is working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place customers can use their digital Identity Card in Wallet."

      Perhaps you are not privy to that effort?

      Or do you know for a fact Apple is making things up?

  30. Burton Clark Turner

    So dumb, what is the problem? I carry driver's license everywhere. It is small, and really no hassle. I also carry my smartphone too. Simple, put them in a pocket. But use that state ID when you need it anywhere. Do not need to give Apple any more money.

  31. Larry

    As a Transportation Security Officer, I see some problems that need addressed before the TSA accepts Digital IDs.
    Digital IDs DO NOT conform to the REALID standards.
    The new CAT stations have no way to read these Digital IDs to verify boarding pass to ID connections.
    Digital IDs can be easily forged.
    We don't want to be responsible for touching your phones and dealing with software or hardware issues.

    1. MKLDH

      This would most likely require new NFC equipment at each checkpoint. You as the officer don't have to worry about if this is a forged ID, just as the merchants don't worry about whether people using ApplePay or Google Pay are faking their credit cards.

  32. Nola

    Some states already permit digital driver's licenses. Louisiana uses the LA Wallet app, which may also link to the department of health to show verified vaccine status.

    https://lawallet.com

  33. To Clarify

    Is this the same Aplmw that back in 2010 denied ever collecting or selling users' location information tk third party services, only to then concede by amending its developer agreement to stop this from happening "except for information directly necessary for the functionality of the apps". At the time, Apple did nothing to enforce these chamges and later revealed in a hearing with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that a "software bug" caused iPhones to...

    Is this the same Aplmw that back in 2010 denied ever collecting or selling users' location information tk third party services, only to then concede by amending its developer agreement to stop this from happening "except for information directly necessary for the functionality of the apps". At the time, Apple did nothing to enforce these chamges and later revealed in a hearing with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that a "software bug" caused iPhones to continue to send anonymous location data to the company's servers, even when location services on the device were turned off...

    While its true that many entities already have plenty of our personal and private information, my drivers license number and my Social Security number are the two pieces that most of us have managed to keep to themselves.

    Personally, I would not take/keep a picture of my license in my Photo folder on my phone, even though that one image might be burried among thousands of other images thereby making it difficult to find... So you won't find me uploading an image of my ID to an app that is intended to only show that image (making it easy to find).

  34. Vidya hughes

    I think it’s a great idea if it would make travel easier. Everything is being digitalized now so why not as long as it works properly. Looking forward to it

  35. warren trout

    But you don't have to show a boarding pass and ID at most airports anymore. They just scan your ID, and your flight shows up as well as confirming your ID.

    1. Chris

      Not every airport has the CAT system. (That's what the ID scanners are called, btw) In fact, the majority do not. They're still new enough technology that they dont recognize all state's IDs yet, nor all passports, and a bent or cracked ID can bring the machine down and then it's back to manually checking.

      Its good in theory and I'm glad we're working towards it, but I dont see this being implemented any...

      Not every airport has the CAT system. (That's what the ID scanners are called, btw) In fact, the majority do not. They're still new enough technology that they dont recognize all state's IDs yet, nor all passports, and a bent or cracked ID can bring the machine down and then it's back to manually checking.

      Its good in theory and I'm glad we're working towards it, but I dont see this being implemented any time soon. And when it is, I'm sure there will be a "verify manually" random function built in, so the physical ID will still need to be presented in some cases.

  36. Reed

    The TSA is already scanning physical ID cards at many checkpoints, rather than just glancing at them. They don’t even look at the card, they insert it in a machine and look at your photo and name on a screen in front of them, presumably pulled up from a database somewhere. This is just an extension of that process, without requiring the physical movement of handing over a card.

Featured Comments Load all 62 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Steve

Some of the comments remind me of what people said when boarding passes first were introduced on our phones. And yes people thought that was a bad idea haha.

Doug

The ACLU has written a white paper listing a number of concerns that digital IDs create. It is worth reading and available here: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/20210517-digitallicense.pdf I don't agree with everything they write but it is worth considering the cost before we simply jump at the next convenient loss of privacy.

Milo

If you don't lock your phone, then seriously you have no business storing anything sensitive on your phone. QR code scan? LOL

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