The TSA will start supporting mobile IDs in the Wallet app beginning February 2022

During the annual Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year, Apple unveiled some pretty big changes for the Wallet app. Namely, expanded support for keys, and, finally, the ability to store a digital version of your mobile identification and/or drivers license. The feature has kind of rolled out since then, but we’re still waiting on the mobile ID support.

Apple's promotional image for iOS 15 showing an iPhone with a user's driver's license in the Wallet app
Image credit: Apple

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is one of the governmental bodies that needs to support the feature before it can actually be used. Apple hyped up the ability to use your mobile drivers license to pass through security at an airport, for instance. But, so far, that support hasn’t launched.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Apple actually delayed the feature. Not too long ago, Apple confirmed on its website that support for mobile identification cards in the Wallet app would not launch until sometime in 2022. And now it looks like the TSA is gearing up for support ahead of that launch.

As first announced by the Secure Technology Alliance last week (via 9to5Mac), the TSA has confirmed that it is going to start rolling out support for mobile IDs stored on electronic devices like our iPhones in February of 2022. This will be a trial run, with support only available at two state airports to start. Then, in March, as long as everything goes well, the TSA will expand support to an additional pair of airports.

Per the original report:

Surveys show that travel is the number one use case people are interested in for mDL. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is in agreement and it fully supports the mDL movement for travel authentication. TSA is preparing to begin its phased rollout, with mDL Apple Wallet integration being its first step, which will allow select security checkpoints in participating airports to be the first locations people can use their mDL in the Wallet app.

During a panel about early mDL adoption, TSA shared its plans to begin accepting mDL use in airports at two state locations starting February of next year. The pilot program will add two additional states around March of 2022. TSA says standards-based digital ID’s, such as state-issued mDL will help streamline and secure the identity verification process. Instead of TSA staff examining a physical ID card, manually comparing a traveler’s ID photo to their face, and verifying flight information, a machine will automate the process.

The report says that the STA’s announcement confirms that travelers will be able to quickly tap an NFC reader or utilize a QR scanner, depending on the installed equipment at the airport they are visiting. A TSA member will be present, still, of course, as they will need to validate the information that is presented. But, hopefully, the whole process should be a bit more streamlined and faster when all of the kinks get worked out.

As far as which airports will be part of the pilot program, that remains to be announced. However, we do know that Apple has already announced eight states in the U.S. will offer support for mobile drivers licenses right out of the gate: Arizona and Georgia, with Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah following within the initial launch window.

So while we don’t know which airports will support the feature just yet, it seems like a pretty safe bet they will be located in some of those states.

When this feature does finally launch, do you plan on using it?