a screenshot of a phone

For a streamlined traveler who thinks it all through before getting to the checkpoint, there’s always one unavoidable hassle. Once you get to the front of the TSA airport security checkpoint, you need to reach for your wallet and pull out ID.

Starting next month, that’s beginning to change, with Apple’s latest update to the iPhone. A variety of states will allow drivers licenses to be uploaded to the Apple Wallet securely, which can then be used to pass through TSA airport security, thanks to a new partnership.

If the initial trial is successful, all US states could eventually allow travelers to keep their wallet in their pockets, instead just waving a phone to pass through airports. And if that goes well, passports may be next!

a phone with a picture of a ram

TSA and Apple Launch iPhone Feature

The TSA is working with Apple to allow forthcoming iPhone software update to serve as proof of ID, for travelers from a variety of US states. This means passengers with ID from trial states will be able to show their phone to a TSA security officer, rather than fidget with pockets.

When you count the seconds, or minutes, it takes for a passenger to find their phone, and then think of all the people who go through an airport in a day — it’s not just a bit of convenience. If you shave 30 seconds off of every passenger, and screen say 1,000 passengers an hour, that’s a lot of seconds.

The launch is expected to start next month, and will feature both Arizona and Georgia. Not long thereafter, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah would follow, and then other US states would follow. If successful, it could pave the way for digital passports, which could provide added security to travel.

a large crowd of people in a building

How To Get Your Digital Apple Wallet ID

Apple worked with states to help validate and secure ID’s beyond what standard physical copies offer. Once the iOS15 update rolls out, drivers from these states will be able to scan their license, and then upload a selfie to help validate the identity.

In many ways, digital ID’s are far more secure than physical identification, since phones are harder to break into. If someone steals a passport, there’s nothing stopping them from attempting to use it. If someone steals a phone, it’s not all that easy to get past a security pin.

Furthermore, phones can be wiped remotely, which helps to keep identity secure, even if a device is lost. Apple promises not to track where ID’s are being used.

Many countries have worked diligently during the pandemic to offer electronic proof of vaccination, to avoid tampering with physical documents. It’s much harder to log into a digital database than it is to write a name on a card.

Game On For Google And Android

Tech companies rarely enjoy being outdone by a competitor, which means Google and Android will be working on a swift reply.

With hope, these companies will accelerate a move to digital ID, making travel more seamless than ever, with a lot less fidgeting in pockets. Google has talked about adding ID and passport to its Android capabilities for years and now, the race is on.

Time is money and patience is a precious commodity while traveling these days. As these programs speed up, expect to save on time and patience at your next TSA wait.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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