Going through airport security is about to get a little more streamlined thanks to a new partnership between Apple and the TSA. On Wednesday, the two organizations rolled out technology that allows some fliers to upload their state-issued ID to their Apple Wallet app and then use their iPhone or Apple Watch to swipe through security.
The new technology first went live on March 23 at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX). For now, the TSA says the digital ID service is only available for TSA PreCheck fliers at the Phoenix airport. To participate, eligible fliers can scan the front and back of their Arizona-issued state driver’s license or state ID into the Apple Wallet app. To verify their identity, users will also be required to take and upload a selfie. “As an additional fraud prevention step, users will also be prompted to complete a series of facial and head movements during the setup process,” Apple says.
Once at the security checkpoint, travelers just need to tap their iPhone or Apple Watch at the TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology reader—no more fumbling for a driver’s license at the bottom of your bag. Once scanned, the app will inform travelers “which information is requested by the TSA, and [they] can consent to provide it with Face ID or Touch ID, without having to unlock their iPhone or show their ID card,” according to Apple.
All the identification information is transmitted digitally and encrypted by the Apple Wallet app. The technology is available on iPhones 8 or later running iOS 15.4, and Apple Watch Series 4 or later running watchOS 8.4 or later.
But don’t get ready to ditch your ID: The TSA notes that even PreCheck fliers who are eligible to participate in the digital ID program at Phoenix should still continue to carry their physical IDs in case the TSA officer needs to see that version instead. According to the agency’s release, “This physical ID may be required by the TSA officer to complete ID verification.”
While the program is currently limited to TSA PreCheck fliers in Phoenix, there are plans to quickly expand the technology to other passengers and at airports throughout the country. “We expect PHX to be the first of many airports this year to feature this innovation as TSA continues to enable a more efficient checkpoint experience for passengers,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “As mobile device technologies continue to advance and become more secure, TSA is committed to leveraging those technologies wherever possible.”
Indeed, Apple says that the Wallet ID capabilities are set to roll out soon in additional states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah, with Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio. The territory of Puerto Rico also planning to join the program down the line as well.