PHX passengers can now use state-issued mobile driver’s licenses or mobile identification cards to verify their identity.

The US’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed a new technology allowing travellers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) to add a digital version of their driver’s licenses or State of Arizona issued IDs to their Apple Wallet for TSA identity verification purposes.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in TSA’s efforts to improve airport security screening. As mobile device technologies continue to advance and become more secure, TSA is committed to leveraging those technologies wherever possible to enhance airport security, reduce touchpoints, provide greater privacy protections to individuals, and facilitate greater accuracy in identity verification capabilities at TSA checkpoints,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske. “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.”

Initially, this new capability, deployed in collaboration with Apple and the State of Arizona, will be available only at PHX for TSA PreCheck passengers from Arizona.

“Phoenix embraces innovation, and this new technology promises to improve passengers experience while ensuring vital security,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “We are proud to partner with Apple in being an early adopter of this modernisation.”

To present their ID in Apple Wallet, passengers will simply tap their iPhone or Apple Watch at the TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology reader. The TSA security officer will then verify the passenger’s identity and flight status for a secure, fast, convenient, and touchless identity verification experience.

With driver’s license and state ID in Apple Wallet, identification data is encrypted and transmitted digitally, eliminating the need for passengers to show or hand over their device to a TSA officer. All passengers, including those traveling through PHX with a driver’s license or state ID, must continue to carry and have readily available their physical driver’s license or identification card, or other acceptable ID listed on the TSA website. This physical ID may be required by the TSA officer to complete ID verification.

TSA recommends that eligible travellers complete the process of adding a mobile ID to their Apple Wallet before arriving at the TSA checkpoint. Only passengers with TSA PreCheck added to their boarding pass will be eligible at this time, with the capability to roll out to other passengers soon.

TSA’s interest in this technology is driven by potential security and privacy enhancements provided by mobile driver’s licenses compared to physical cards. In addition, touchless identity verification will have health and safety benefits in response to the pandemic.

PHX is the only airport with mobile driver’s license capability at this time. As other states and device manufacturers adopt this capability, TSA will deploy the technology at airport checkpoints.