No need for plastic: DVLA is working on putting driving licences on phones

Apple Wallet

Society is well on its way to going cashless and with smartphone payments even credit cards may not be needed for long, but there's one card we all carry that hasn't gone anywhere yet: the humble driving licence.

That too could be getting the digital treatment soon though, as Oliver Morley, CEO of the DVLA, has just tweeted a picture of a driving licence in the Wallet app on an iPhone, which he says is "a little prototype of something we're working on."

Wallet is already used to store digital versions of debit and credit cards, store cards, boarding passes and more, so driving licences would make for a logical next step and bring us one step closer to the death of the physical wallet.

Driving licence

In fact, digital driving licences have already been trialled in some US states, so it's about time the UK got in on the act.

When and where

The picture leaves us with as many questions as answers though, since we don't know when digital licences will be rolling out, whether they're definitely coming or if they're just being experimented with.

It's also not clear whether they're going to be iOS-only for now or also make their way to Android and other operating systems.

Even once they do arrive the tech will have some hurdles to overcome. It could take a long time for digital identification to be universally accepted by shops and clubs, for example, and then there's the issue that if your phone dies you're suddenly without any ID.

But this is still an exciting step towards a world free of an expletive-filled evening when you've forgotten your wallet. Let's just hope it comes sooner rather than later.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.