The Transportation Security Administration is finally ready to accept the digital IDs stored in Apple Wallets. The agency first revealed that it was working with Apple back in 2021, and that it would begin recognizing digital documents at airports sometime in the first quarter of 2022.
The TSA is now ready to take that next step, and will soon allow people from multiple participating states to pass through airport security with a digital driver’s license (or state ID) instead of a physical one. In doing so, it will be getting an assist from IDEMIA, which is a long-time TSA partner and will be providing the Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) readers that the TSA will use to scan the digital documents.
The new technology has debuted at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, with plans for expansion to other airports across the US. The system should reduce congestion at security checkpoints, since people will no longer need to present an identity document (physical or digital) to an actual TSA agent. Instead, people will be able to tap their iPhone or their Apple Watch at a CAT reader to transfer the necessary identity information, and then complete a biometric Face or Touch ID scan to ensure that that information corresponds to the person holding the phone.
People who live in states that support digital IDs can add a driver’s license or a state ID to their Apple Wallet with the “+” button at the top of the screen. Any data stored in the Wallet is encrypted to guard against theft and tampering.
IDEMIA, meanwhile, has been working with the TSA since 2013 to register travelers in the TSA PreCheck program. The company is also one of the top suppliers of driver’s licenses in the US, issuing more than 55 million cards for people in 35 states on an annual basis.
“We are excited to work with Apple and TSA on the next step of safe and seamless identity verification,” said IDEMIA President and CEO Pierre Barrial. “This leverages the best of IDEMIA’s expertise in the field of identity technologies and credentials digitization.”
IDEMIA and the TSA are planning to upgrade the CAT readers to better support touchless screening experiences. The company has been at the forefront of the digital ID movement, and has already delivered digital driver’s licenses for states like Oklahoma and Mississippi.