The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in collaboration with the State of Arizona and Apple, has deployed a new technology that allows airline passengers to use their state-issued mobile driver’s license or mobile identification card in Apple Wallet on iPhone or Apple Watch to verify their identity for airport security screening purposes.
Starting March 23 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), individuals with driver’s licenses or state IDs issued by the State of Arizona will be able to add a digital version of their license or ID to their Apple Wallet for TSA identity verification purposes.
“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in TSA’s efforts to improve airport security screening. As mobile device technologies continue to advance and become more secure, TSA is committed to leveraging those technologies wherever possible to enhance airport security, reduce touchpoints, provide greater privacy protections to individuals, and facilitate greater accuracy in identity verification capabilities at TSA checkpoints,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We expect PHX to be the first of many airports this year to feature this innovation as TSA continues to enable a more efficient checkpoint experience for passengers.”
Initially, this new capability will be available only at PHX for TSA PreCheck® passengers from Arizona. To use this feature, passengers must add their Arizona-issued state driver’s license or state ID to Apple Wallet.
“Phoenix embraces innovation, and this new technology promises to improve passengers experience while ensuring vital security,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “We are proud to partner with Apple in being an early-adopter of this modernization.”
“Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport welcomes this innovation, which will make traveling through our airport even easier for millions of our customers,” said Phoenix Director of Aviation Services, Chad Makovsky. “We are grateful to partner with industry thought leaders who relentlessly pursue solutions that empower our passengers and improve their travel experience.”
To present their ID in Apple Wallet, passengers will simply tap their iPhone or Apple Watch at the TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology reader. The TSA security officer will then verify the passenger’s identity and flight status for a secure, fast, convenient, and touchless identity verification experience.
With driver’s license and state ID in Apple Wallet, identification data is encrypted and transmitted digitally, eliminating the need for passengers to show or hand over their device to a TSA officer. All passengers, including those traveling through PHX with a driver’s license or state ID, must continue to carry and have readily available their physical driver’s license or identification card, or other acceptable ID listed on the TSA website. This physical ID may be required by the TSA officer to complete ID verification.
TSA recommends that eligible travelers complete the process of adding a mobile ID to their Apple Wallet before arriving at the TSA checkpoint. Only passengers with TSA PreCheck added to their boarding pass will be eligible at this time, with the capability to roll out to other passengers soon.
TSA introduced the concept of the mobile driver’s license in April 2021 with a notice in the Federal Register and a press release announcing a request for information regarding mobile driver’s licenses. This effort is one of the steps TSA is taking under President Biden’s Executive Order on Transforming Customer Experience. TSA’s interest in this technology is driven by potential security and privacy enhancements provided by mobile driver’s licenses compared to physical cards. In addition, touchless identity verification will have health and safety benefits in response to the pandemic.
PHX is the only airport with mobile driver’s license capability at this time. As other states and device manufacturers adopt this capability, TSA will deploy the technology at airport checkpoints.