TSA to begin Apple digital ID pilot in February

TSA and Apple digital ID in Wallet
DIGITAL TRIAL: Passengers will be able to verify their ID via Wallet at TSA checkpoints at two US airports

Air passengers with Apple devices will soon be able to verify their identity at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at two US airports by presenting a digital ID document such as their mobile driving licence (mDL) or state ID stored in Wallet.

The TSA is to begin trialling the use of Apple digital IDs as part of a pilot programme that will roll out to airports in “two additional states around March of 2022”, enabling travellers to tap their Apple device on an NFC reader or use a QR scanner to initiate an automated identity verification process.

“Standards-based digital IDs, such as state-issued mDL, will help streamline and secure the identity verification process,” the TSA told a Secure Technology Alliance event, where it confirmed it would be launching a “phased rollout, with mDL Apple Wallet integration being its first step”.

“Instead of TSA staff examining a physical ID card, manually comparing a traveller’s ID photo to their face and verifying flight information, a machine will automate the process,” the TSA said.

“Travellers will simply tap an NFC reader or use a QR scanner to initiate the data exchange.

“A TSA staff member will be present to oversee and validate the verification process.”


Apple announced that TSA airport security checkpoints would be among the first locations to support the use of digital ID credentials stored in Wallet when it originally unveiled the feature in June last year, and confirmed in September that users would soon be able to present their driving licence or state ID to the TSA by tapping their iPhone or Apple Watch at an identity reader.

Apple has also updated its Wallet page to confirm that, in addition to mDLs and digital state IDs, it is adding support for digital employee IDs and corporate passes that will enable users “to badge into the office, get access to the fitness center — even pay for a meal at the company café” with their iPhone or Apple Watch in “early 2022”.

Eight US states — Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah — have so far confirmed that they are planning to roll out Apple digital IDs early this year after an earlier launch due in late 2021 was postponed.

Memorandums of agreement between Apple and some of those US states released in November 2021 revealed that Apple retains control over when the service launches in any given territory.

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