The Top 3 Uses for Mobile Identity

Mobile identity is one of the most popular topics in the identity business today. If we look at ongoing pilots all over the world, the most common use case we see is the mobile driver’s license. For many countries, a mobile driving license is often used as the primary identification document when there is no national identity card. But this view is a very limited one that does not take into account the other benefits and features of mobile identity.

Let’s take a closer look at three of the most promising and innovative use cases for mobile ID:

Use 1: Emergency Passport

The mobile emergency passport is probably not the first use case you think about when considering mobile identity documents. But in our opinion, it is one of the most promising ones for many reasons. Some of you might have experienced how inconvenient it can be when you lose your passport while traveling abroad. You have to go to the nearest consulate, which can be hours away from your actual location. You have to provide the consulate with proof of identity to eventually apply for an emergency passport. This can take many hours and even days if you don’t have anyone back home to provide you with back-up proof of identity documents. Until you get your emergency passport you will not be able to get home. The situation is time-consuming and frankly unnecessary because a mobile emergency passport can prevent it all.

A mobile emergency passport is a proof of identity and ownership of traveling privilege that is recognized by your country and potentially by other countries in bilateral agreements. While the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been looking for some time now at mobile passports, they are not yet recognized as a standard document for international travel. BUT, a mobile emergency passport can already be used if two countries—neighbors, for example—agree on it. It could also be used to cross your own country’s border to get back home or, as mentioned above, to start your emergency passport application as quickly as possible.

Use 2: Vehicle Registration

Vehicle registration use cases are currently very limited because of the rigidity of the physical document, but we believe that this is one of the hottest documents governments should consider turning into mobile.

There are situations where we don’t drive our own car, but we drive the car of our husband, wife or friend. Sometimes we use a rented car while traveling. In other cases, we drive a car owned by the company we work for and we participate in car sharing. In all of these cases, it is not easy to share the vehicle registration with someone else.

A mobile vehicle registration is a copy of the car registration that can be hosted on your phone and is recognized by law enforcement as well as private companies. This mobile document can also be shared with third parties on a temporary basis over the air, and can even be linked to a mobile identity document and/or a mobile driving license. This allows governments to resolve some of the current issues surrounding the physical document. A mobile vehicle registration on someone’s phone legitimates the car that you rent or borrow. It allows you to share the vehicle registration remotely with a person that you don’t have time to meet. These functionalities also spare the police valuable time, as they don’t need to follow up on or report those cases where they stop a driver without vehicle registration.

When implementing mobile vehicle registration, it makes sense for governments to invest in a solution that can store multiple ID documents from different issuers in one application. This way different documents can be linked to each other. Their interdependence makes mobile identity documents more secure. A mobile vehicle registration can be linked to the mobile driving license and could even be linked to the key that starts the car. Also, law enforcement processes can be simplified as they can verify the driving license, the car registration, the road safety certificate of the car and the proof of insurance, in a single transaction.

Use 3: Residence Permit

Receiving a residence permit can be a life-changing moment. It means that you are allowed to live and work in a foreign country. To receive a residence permit, you often work through an agent to navigate the complicated process. In many cases, the residence permit does not arrive until you have arrived in a foreign country. And then, how can you be sure you have a legitimate permit? Sometimes people staying in a foreign country assume that they are there with a legitimate residence permit when they are not. They become illegal, which poses problems for the individuals but also for the government. In such cases, remote and over-the-air-distribution of a permit is a valuable solution. Individuals could receive a mobile residence permit before entering a foreign country and would be able to check the authenticity of their permit. This mobile residence permit can also be hosted on a mobile phone and used legitimately as proof of residency privileges with the local authorities.

On top of the mentioned benefits, the renewal can be simplified. You get a warning from the government on your phone that the license expires soon along with a list of documents needed for its extension. Governments can make it even simpler by allowing mobile payment.

The value of a solution that can store multiple documents in one mobile application also applies here, as a mobile residence permit is often linked to a work permit and to an identity document as a national ID.

Want to learn more on how governments are using mobile for a more secure citizenry? Get the executive brief, “The Future is Now” at