Maryland begins issuing digital driver’s licenses, ID cards

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Maryland residents can now carry a digital version of their driver’s license or identification card on their phone, then use it to get through security checkpoints at two of the Washington region’s airports.

The mobile credentials stored in Apple Wallet are acceptable at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall and Reagan National airports, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and Transportation Security Administration announced Wednesday.

The TSA has been working with Apple and several states since last year to enable the use of the digital version of credentials at airport security lanes. Maryland is the second state to offer the option. Arizonans in March were eligible to store copies of their IDs in their iPhone or Apple Watch, and to tap the feature to present their identification at TSA checkpoints at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Federal officials said the technology is available only for passengers at TSA PreCheck lanes, but the agency is working to expand the capability to other passengers. TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said expansion is limited by the availability of “credential authentication technology” readers that TSA officers use at document checkpoints.

Washington Dulles International Airport does not have the technology to accept mobile driver’s licenses, Farbstein said.

DC is on track to issue electronic versions of driver’s licenses

Supporters of the mobile ID envision it eventually will be accepted to enter government buildings, for purchase of alcoholic beverages and to show if pulled over by police.

The availability of mobile licenses and their acceptance as proof of identity marks a milestone, officials said, adding that the option will enhance security and privacy for ID holders, while providing a touchless option at checkpoints.

“Maryland Mobile ID in Apple Wallet offers additional security and privacy benefits than the physical state ID or driver’s license because Marylanders get to review the personal information they share with others, and use biometric authentication with Face ID or Touch ID to authorize it,” MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer said in a statement. She said the agency expects the number of locations accepting mobile ID to grow.

More than 20 states have considered, tested or launched digital versions of driver’s licenses. Apple last year announced plans to roll out driver’s licenses and state IDs on the iPhone and Apple Watch as part of a partnership with several states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah.

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The DC Council in December approved legislation that would allow the city to issue electronic driver’s licenses and IDs. The legislation would allow people to present identification in an electronic format, such as on a smartphone, instead of a physical credential, except when prohibited by federal law.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles said last fall it is also looking to develop a mobile driver’s license, after it successfully tested the use of digital credentials in 2016 and concluded it was “technically feasible” to provide the option.

In Maryland, residents who have a valid state ID or license can get the mobile option in Apple Wallet on an iPhone 8 or newer, or an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, with the latest version of the operating software.

To enroll, users can tap the “plus” button at the top of the screen in Apple Wallet on their iPhone and select “Driver’s license or State ID” and follow the instructions, which includes taking a photo of their ID and a headshot to send to the MVA for verification.

Even if using the mobile ID at the airport, passengers should continue to carry their physical driver’s license or identification card, the TSA said, noting that they could still be asked to show the physical ID.

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