How to Verify a Driver’s License: Instructions & Tips

Driver's license verification in FTx Identity app

With advances in counterfeiting technology, businesses face a significant challenge: ensuring their customers are who they say they are.

Whether it’s for age verification in ecommerce, user validation in online platforms, or fintech identity verification, driver’s licenses are the most common identifying document. But how can you, as a business, verify a driver’s license effectively and accurately?

This question is not just about compliance and fraud prevention; it’s also about trust, safety, and reputation. A single misstep can lead to significant financial loss, legal complications, and damage to your brand’s image.

Need some help? In this short guide, we dive into the intricacies of driver’s license verification. We’ll explore the challenges businesses face, the importance of this process, and most importantly, provide a step-by-step guide on how to verify a driver’s license.

Driver’s License Verification: What is It?

The use of a state-issued driver’s license to verify a person’s identity or age is known as driver’s license verification. The procedure can assist you in figuring out whether the person is who they say they are and whether the driver’s license is real. Many businesses, primarily bars, liquor stores, and other shops that sell-age restricted products (like video game stores), the age verification process includes manual ID checks or using third-party apps. They usually have tools that quickly determine whether a person is older than 21 or to detect a fake ID.

Online businesses continue to use driver’s license verification as part of their digital identity verification workflow even when they are unable to feel or see a customer’s driver’s license. The verification can be a choice for adhering to required Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations.

How to Verify an ID: Step-By-Step

Verifying a driver’s license involves checking its authenticity and ensuring that the information it contains matches the person presenting it. Here are the general steps:

  1. Check the Physical Characteristics: Genuine driver’s licenses have specific features that are hard to replicate. These can include holograms, microprinting, or special markings that are visible under UV light. The quality of the card material and the printing can also give clues about its authenticity.
  2. Verify the Information: Check the information on the license. Does the photo match the person presenting it? Do the name and birthdate seem plausible? If you have other information about the person, does it match what’s on the license?
  3. Use a Verification Service: Some businesses use driver’s license verification services. These services can check the license number against databases to ensure it’s valid. Note that the availability of these services can vary by location and they often require consent from the person whose license is being verified.
  4. Check with Issuing Authority: In some cases, you can verify a driver’s license with the issuing authority. This is usually the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent agency in the license holder’s state or country. This step can be more time-consuming and may also require consent.

The exact process varies depending on the laws and regulations in your location, and the specific context in which you’re verifying the license. Need some help? See our resource: How to Spot a Fake ID for more tips.

Carrying Out AAMVA Checks

The retrieved data from a driver’s license can be compared to data from the DMV issuing the license in some identity verification (IDV) solutions. They are referred to as AAMVA checks because the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) manages the Driver’s License Data Verification (DLDV) service.

An AAMVA check can provide a true or false result for up to 15 attributes, including the name, address, state, zip code, eye color, height, and expiration date. This service is available in participating states. The check can help you identify dishonest individuals who have purchased, produced, or altered a driver’s license.

It cannot determine whether the license is authentic or whether it belongs to the person using it. Similar to selfie checks, businesses frequently utilize the AAMVA check as a step-up option when dealing with high-risk applicants or high-value transactions.

Note: Expired IDs can pass scanners, and in some states, expired IDs cannot be used to buy alcohol. Therefore, it’s best to choose a system that will alert you of driver’s licenses that are expired.

What’s the Process for Online Driver’s License Verification?

Verifying a driver’s license is much different for online businesses, although the goal is the same. These systems use a digital platform to prove the identity and often age of the individual. The process to check age for an online store, for example, typically includes these steps:

  1. User Registration: The user creates an account providing basic information such as name, email address, and sometimes, phone number.
  2. Request for Verification: The system prompts the user to verify their identity. This could be immediately after registration, or at a later stage when the user attempts to perform a sensitive action like making a purchase or changing account settings.
  3. Data Collection: The user is asked to provide more detailed personal information. This could include date of birth, physical address, or social security number. The specific information requested will depend on the level of identity assurance required.
  4. Document Verification: The user may be asked to upload a scan or photo of a government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license. Some systems may also ask the user to take a selfie for facial comparison with the photo on the ID.
  5. Data Verification: The system checks the provided information against various databases or sources. This could include public records, credit bureaus, or proprietary databases. The goal is to confirm that the information is accurate and belongs to the person providing it.
  6. Biometric Verification: In some cases, biometric age verification may be used. This could include a biomeric process like liveness detection or selfie proofing. The user’s selfie is then compared to the photo on their ID.
  7. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): For added security, the system may require the user to complete a second factor of authentication. This could involve entering a code sent to the user’s phone or email, or confirming a push notification on a trusted device.
Why Are Selfie Checks Included?

To help guarantee the license wasn’t stolen and the person is present when uploading the photo, some companies incorporate a selfie check into their driver’s license verification procedure. Some businesses in high-risk areas, like financial services, have it as a standard requirement. Other businesses may utilize a selfie check as an additional step-up verification that is only activated when risk signals flag a candidate as a potential bad actor.

One or more selfies taken with a webcam or a mobile device are required for a selfie check. Video verifications are another popular alternative. The photos from the driver’s license are compared to the images that were obtained. Additionally, liveness recognition techniques help in verifying the authenticity of the selfie or video and spotting attempts to manipulate the system.

What Is Mobile Driver’s License Verification?

Mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs), a type of electronic identity, are beginning to be issued and supported by states. They are also referred to as electronic IDs (eIDs), digital driver’s licenses (dDLs), virtual driver’s licenses (vDLs), and virtual driver’s licenses.

Users must go through an IDV process, which may include a database verification and selfie check, in order to obtain a mDL. Then, they can keep their mDL in a government-sponsored app or a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Much of the same information found on a conventional driver’s license is included in the encrypted mDLs, and users must authenticate their identity with a pin, password, face scan, or fingerprint scan in order to access or use their mDL.

mDL verifications can provide a low-friction alternative for a physical driver’s license verification for businesses. If a user submitted their mDL using a face scan rather than a selfie, you can let them skip the second selfie check and avoid having to deal with extraction problems caused by poor image quality.

Ultimately, a user friendly process is necessary. Blurry or unclear images are common reasons that your identity confirmation failed.

Utilizing Driver’s License Verification

Driver’s license verification may be a step-up solution to assist stop bad actors or a component of your standard onboarding procedure, depending on your business and risk tolerance. mDL verifications can be a fantastic choice once they get more acceptance. Adding selfie checks or AAMVA checks, where available and suitable, might help increase your assurance that you’re dealing with an authentic user and will ensure you qualify for retail scan data programs. But controlling risk while avoiding creating too much conflict is never easy.

The latest in age verification technology has arrived. With FTx Identity, you can ensure compliance with age restrictions effortlessly. This cutting-edge technology enables you to quickly and accurately verify the age of your customers, providing peace of mind for both you and your customers. Ready to get started? Get in touch with one of our specialists today to get going with a consultation and experience a demo.

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