South Korea is kicking off a six month trial of a new mobile driver’s license system. If all goes well, the country will move forward with the full national launch of the system in July.
Until then, mobile driver’s licenses will only be issued at the Seoul Seobu Driver’s License Examination Office, the Daejeon Driver’s License Examination Office, and 14 police stations associated with both. The pilot is being carried out under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and the National Police Agency.
The digital IDs themselves are designed to replace physical ID cards, and can serve as valid proof of age or identity in any situation that would have previously required a physical ID. For example, the mobile driver’s license could be used for identity verification at a bank or a government institution, or for proof of age when buying restricted goods in a retail outlet.
To obtain an ID, Korean citizens will need to visit one of the participating sites, where they will be given a QR code that can be scanned to transfer the ID to their phone. Alternatively, they can use a mobile app to scan a physical driver’s license with a built-in IC chip. However, each mobile driver’s license is bound to a single mobile device.
Mobile driver’s licenses will also be issued to foreign nationals with a resident card and a driver’s license. The digital documents are recognized under Korea’s Road Traffic Act.
The news reflects the growing international interest in digital identity documents. Several US states have already kicked off their own mobile driver’s license trials, while Greece is expected to roll out digital IDs in time for this year’s Easter weekend. The Czech Republic, meanwhile, recently announced plans to introduce digital driver’s licenses by 2023.