NSW drivers can now use their smartphone as a form of ID
Almost five years after it was proposed, NSW citizens are now finally able to display their driver’s licence on their phones and use it as a form of ID at pubs and clubs.
So what will this mean?
You must ensure your phone screen is not cracked as you can be denied due to requirements of a clear preview. You’ll also need to keep a portable charger handy if your phone has a tendency to die as this will not be a valid reason for not having ID. As a backup, you should carry your hard copy.
The move, which the NSW government previously estimated could save tens of millions of dollars, will make NSW one of the few places in the world where citizens are able to choose to have a licence issued in digital format and have it displayed on their smartphones.
In Australia, NSW joins South Australia, which launched a similar app in May 2017.
How to get a digital licence?
- Download the Service NSW app
- Register an account tied to an email address
- Enter your physical licence’s address, licence number and the number on its back (top left) into the app
- Use your digital licence
Until now, only about 20,000 citizens in trial areas that included Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Albury, and Dubbo were able to make use of a digital driver’s licence.
Despite the app being made publicly available — and an update of the Apple app says “The NSW Digital Driver Licence is here! We’ve trialled the driver licence with more than 20,000 citizens, and now it’s your turn — Service NSW said mid-morning on Tuesday that it was still “testing” the app.
“The NSW government will soon announce the statewide rollout of the Digital Driver Licence,” it said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are currently testing the technology for early adopters.”
While the licence is expected to be accepted at most venues, the state government is reminding people to still carry their plastic card “to avoid inconvenience”, as some venues in NSW or other states and countries may not accept it as a valid form of ID.
“Always carry your plastic card if you know you’re going to need your driver licence, or if you plan to travel interstate. Ensure your phone screen is not cracked and your phone is charged,” Service NSW warns. “It … may take some time before all organisations will be ready to accept” the digital app.
It’s also reminding people to not use their phones while driving or riding when asked for ID and that you do not have to hand over your unlocked phone in order for it to be verified by people such as security guards or police officers.
“You don’t have to hand over your phone. You may be asked to refresh your licence, by pulling down and releasing,” the Service NSW app says.
“If you get pulled over by the police, do not pick up your phone until the officer requests to see your driver licence. Significant penalties apply for using a mobile phone illegally,” it adds.
The app has a number of security safeguards built into it to make it easier for authorities to verify a card’s validity, including a Waratah emblem “hologram” that moves when the phone is tilted on an iPhone and the ability to scan a QR code to verify that the name displayed on the screen matches the name that is on the database at Service NSW.
This QR code expires shortly after it is displayed, so it can’t be looked up again.
Other licences that can be used with the Service NSW app include those for operating a boat, RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) permits, fishing licences, and working with children cards.
The state government passed the Road Transport and Other Legislation Amendment (Digital Driver Licences and Photo Cards) Act 2018 last year in order to make it lawful for people to show a digital form of ID instead of a plastic card in order to gain access to licensed venues and for police checks.