Digital licences introduced in New South Wales

A new digital driver’s licence is now legal for use across New South Wales following trials of the technology in parts of the region.

The move now makes 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.

Digital identification has hit NSW. Photo: NSW Service

A new digital driver’s licence is now legal for use across New South Wales following trials of the technology in parts of the region.

The move now makes 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.


NSW citizens are now able to display their driver’s licence on their phones and use it as a form of ID at pubs and clubs.

The digital permits have already been trialled in Dubbo, Albury and Sydney’s eastern suburbs, but are now available statewide.

The Service NSW app, which enables people to display their ID on iPhone and Android smartphones, was updated about 12pm on Monday for all NSW citizens to add their driver’s licence.

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.

It also has 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.

“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.

If you have a cracked screen, it may not get accepted because a clear screen is required for it to be used as valid ID, and your phone must also be kept charged so that you can show your licence.

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 app will also show when the licence was last refreshed, and can be reloaded to prove its legitimacy.

Services NSW said it has “built strong partnerships with cyber security and identity theft experts” to protect user data and information with “comprehensive security measures” they say are on par with those used for internet banking.


Those who raced to get their digital licence earlier this week were met with a Services NSW app that wasn’t working, with attempts to connect being met with an error message:

Some first-time users took to Twitter to voice their frustrations, noting the app appeared to have crashed and was telling people it was unavailable.

“We’re a little busy,” the message reads.

“Many people are loading their digital licences right now. Please try again.”

A midday Monday update on Apple’s App Store said: “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”.

But as Sydneysiders began signing up and noticing errors, a Service NSW spokesman said mid-morning on Tuesday it was still “testing” the app.

In response to Tuesday’s outage, Minister Dominello said: 

“The digital licence has been very popular with about 50,000 downloads as of Tuesday afternoon. This helps explain the high demand for it on the platform.”

The project has cost the state government $14.65m to date and is part of a greater push to replace all existing forms of identification with digital replications.



Australia is helping to lead an increasing transition to digital identification, with other states already offering the option of holding a digital driver’s license and programs like Digital iD and GovPass beginning to take shape on a national level.

The federal government is currently trialing technology to “simplify how people identify themselves” when using its services after pouring $92 million into the scheme in May’s budget.

South Australia became Australia’s first state to offer the option of holding a digital driver’s license in October 2017, following successful trials of digital Proof of Age cards, boat licences, land agent and land sale registrations, and vehicle registrations across the country.

Queensland Transport will also progressively replace three million laminated drivers’ licenses with smartcards that use facial recognition technology supplied by company Unisys.

The apps update in real time to show if a licence has been suspended or expired, revealing various statistics such as demerit points and fines, and has a “shake” feature to show the licence is not a screenshot.

The move is a key step in Australia’s move towards digital identification systems, including moves by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to make identities and individuals more monitored, observable and ‘accountable’.

We have spoken extensively on the continued expansion of national facial recognition plans in Australia, including the development of a full system and privacy concerns associated, however these types of concepts are far from new.

Currently, some organisations and businesses may not be set up to validate your digital pass or license, and security measures to protect your encrypted digital license include fingerprint scanning and “identity verification.”

Digital identity has the potential to power the new world economy, society and government, and has been a measure of controversy ever since the technology has been able to be developed.

As technology and policy towards biometric innovations continues to advance across the world, the inevitability is now clear: Digital identity and instant identification will soon become the new standard, and it is fast approaching.


NSW becomes second state to introduce digital driver’s licence, but don’t throw out your wallet just yet | 

NSW Digital Driver Licence | Service NSW

Service NSW crashes as Sydneysiders rush to register for digital driver’s licence | 7 News

Australia’s rapid shift to digital identification and licenses | TOTT News


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