How nice would it be to never again realize that you forgot your driver’s license in your other pants? Well, if you have a smartphone—and if you live in one of the US states that supports it—you can start carrying a digital version of your ID with you everywhere.
A recent Android update expands Google’s digital ID program that lets users store their personal IDs in digital form within Google Wallet. This includes driver’s licenses and other official state IDs. Apple launched a similar feature in Apple Wallet in 2021. Digital identification cards (for both platforms) are available in just a handful of US states right now: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland. Both Apple and Google say residents of more states will be able to load their driver’s licenses onto their phones eventually, but that depends on local governments making the necessary policy and digital infrastructure changes.
Some other states are content to maintain their own services for displaying your digital ID. California has its own mobile driver’s license app, as does Utah. Both Google and Apple hope to build out their ID storage capabilities, but with so many government agencies involved, the process is slow going. Meanwhile, the US Transportation Security Administration accepts digital drivers licenses at just over two dozen airports across the US; you can find a map of those airports on the TSA website.
Digital IDs in both Apple and Google Wallets work in tandem with your phone’s bio-authentication features to verify that the person holding the phone is the person whose ID is on there. When you are asked to show your ID, you’ll be prompted to unlock the feature by scanning your face with Face ID or using your fingerprint scanner, just like you would with a contactless payment.
If you live in a state that supports digital ID management, here’s what to know about storing your government-issued ID card on your phone.
How to Add Your ID to Google Wallet
Google Wallet should be preinstalled on your Android device, but if not, then redownload the app. You’ll need to have a screen lock enabled, which Google requires so that nobody other than you is able to use your ID or your payment cards.
Go into the Wallet app and look for the Add to Wallet button in the bottom right corner. Tap that, then select the ID card option. Select Get Started, then pick your state. From there you can either upload photos of your ID (front and back) or use the camera to snap photos at that moment. Google Wallet will also ask you to take a video, which it uses to match with the photo on your ID. Before you can use the digital ID, the information you provided will need to be approved by the state, which Google says can take a few minutes.
If you decide to remove your ID from Google Wallet, go into the app, flip through your stack of cards to find your ID, and tap on it. On the next screen, and tap the three dot menu at the top right corner. Tap Remove, then confirm your choice.
How to Add Your ID to Apple Wallet
Apple’s ID uploading features only work on iPhone 8 models or newer. You’ll need the Apple Wallet app for iOS, which should come preinstalled on your iPhone. Go into the Wallet app and tap the Add button—it’s the one with the big plus sign. Select Driver’s License or State ID, then pick the relevant state you live in. You can choose to have your digital ID paired with just your iPhone, or you can store it on your Apple Watch as well. From there, the app will guide you to take photos of the front and back of your ID.
Finally, you’ll be prompted to record a short video as you move your head around and smile awkwardly so that Apple’s Face ID can verify your identity. The camera will snap a selfie and use the associated photo and video to assess if you’re the person on your card. You’ll then be asked to link the ID with biometric info, like a fingerprint or face scan or a passcode.