What is an mDL?

What Is a Mobile Driver’s License?

A mobile driver’s license (mDL) is a digital representation of the information contained in a physical driver’s license or non-driver identification card. This information is securely stored on a smart mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet.


The mDL Holder

The individual who chooses to have and use an mDL. They are the legitimate owner of the identity enrolled with the department of motor vehicles (DMV) or an equivalent agency and associated with the physical driver’s license card and the mDL.

The Issuing Authority (or Issuer)

The entity that applies the digital data associated with the issuance of a physical driver’s license to the mDL; usually the DMV or an equivalent agency.

Samsung mDL

The Relying Party (or Verifier)

The entity that requires an identity or verified biographical information to provide a product, service or entitlement to a holder.

The Identity Provider (or Provider)

The service provider that manages the use of mDLs online.

Mobile vs. Digital

Mobile driver’s license, or mDL, is the accepted industry term, however the term digital driver’s license (DDL) is also widely used to describe implementations in the media.

How Does It Work?

The mDL holder accesses the data in an mDL through a downloadable app approved by a state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) or an equivalent agency. The app allows holders to determine which mDL data they wish to share during a specific encounter. The entity that needs to confirm an individual’s identity requests and receives information through an electronic reader that is capable of confirming the authenticity of the mDL and receiving the data that has been authorized for sharing.

Examples of Scenarios in Which mDLs Might Be Used:


Showing age when entering a bar or restaurant Purchasing age-restricted items Renting or sharing cars
Passing through airport security Proving driving privilege Stopping at the roadside for law enforcement
Checking into a hotel Accessing federal buildings Opening bank accounts

Benefits to Implementing mDLs


Benefits Holder Issuer Verifier
Holders can determine whether, to whom, and what mDL data they wish to share during a specific encounter. X    
Verifiers can choose to receive only the information required for a particular transaction, reducing the need to safeguard unwanted data. X   X
DL data is easily accessed from a mobile phone, reducing the need to carry around a physical card. X    
mDLs follow the highest security standards, use security measures such as advanced encryption, and can be digitally authenticated online and offline. X X X
mDLs provide cryptographic proof that an Issuer validated the data. This reduces the use of counterfeit documents.   X X
mDLs offer increased reliability and can be used worldwide via the ISO/IEC 18013-5 standard. X X X
mDLs can be issued remotely. X X  
mDLs can be updated remotely, reducing management cost, improving efficiency and minimizing the use of expired and invalid DLs.   X X
mDLs have the potential to increase security for online purchases and interactions in the future. X X X

Status of Implementations Across the U.S.

Several states are already in a piloting phase or have fully adopted and implemented mDLs. This tracker map provides more information for each state and shows where mDLs are currently available.

Get Involved in the mDL Movement

The Secure Technology Alliance, an organization known for supporting the successful implementation of secure technologies in the U.S., launched an initiative in 2019 to raise awareness, support development, accelerate adoption and educate the U.S. market on the technology and applications for state-issued mDLs.