The Five Types Of ID You Should Digitize ASAP

by Wendy Wisner
A woman holding her mobile phone

A few weeks ago, my husband went to a social event in NYC. It was the first time he’d done something like that since the pandemic began. As he was getting ready to go, we realized that he would need his vaccine card, since many indoor public arenas in NYC now require vaccine ID to enter. (Can we talk about how cool NYC is for doing this?!)

At first, I told him to just take the card and stick it into his wallet. But then I realized that that probably wasn’t such a good idea, because he’d risk losing it, and it’s not like you can go and order another copy of your vaccine ID. Plus, he has a history of losing important things … don’t even get me started.

I suggested he take a picture of his vaccine card, which he did, but then I felt concerned about the prospect of someone finding his phone and stealing it that way. We ended up remembering that NYC has a digital vaccine pass called the Excelsior Pass, which uses a QR code that can easily be scanned at whatever establishment you enter. That’s what he ended up using and it worked perfectly.

All of this made me realize that carrying around things like vaccine cards and IDs is really something that is kind of antiquated in this day and age. I mean, it’s 2021. Why are people still walking around with important pieces of information on paper or plastic?

I started thinking that there have to be ways to digitize most of the important stuff we keep in our wallets—at least as a backup should our wallets get stolen or lost. I also figured that there had to be a safer way to store this stuff on a phone besides just having it hang out in your camera reel.

What Type Of ID Should You Digitize?

It turns out I was right. According to USA Today, we should be keeping digital copies of pretty much all of our most important stuff. You never know when you’ll need that stuff, and having an alternative way to access it is really important.

And let’s face it: most of us have our phones on us at all times, even if we’ve forgotten our other important documents.

Here are some of the documents that USA Today suggests you keep digital copies of:

1. Your COVID-19 Vaccine Card

More and more places are asking for proof of vaccination, so it makes sense to have your card on you at all times. A digital version makes much more sense than carrying around a flimsy paper card. As far as I know, there isn’t a good way to replace those cards either.

2. Your Driver’s License

Most of us use our driver’s license as our main form of ID—and of course, we need to have it handy if we get pulled over while driving. Sometimes we don’t want to have our wallet on us, or we’ve forgotten it. That’s why it’s smart to have a digital back-up.

3. Your Car Info/Car Insurance Info

Having your car info on you, such as license plate and VIN number, is important. Same goes for your car insurance. Most of us keep that info in our car, but, as USA Today points out, there might be instances when we don’t have access to our car, and need that info. For example, if your car gets stolen while you are out, you’ll want quick access to your car info and car insurance info right away. Having a digital version of that stuff can be super helpful.

4. Your Health Insurance Cards

As a parent, you need access your to kids’ health insurance cards pretty dang frequently. Most health insurance companies will only send one copy of a health insurance card, which can get really annoying when more than one parent or caretaker brings your kid to the doctor. It’s a smart idea to have a digital version of health insurance and dental insurance—for both your kids, yourself, and your spouse.

5. School/Work/Other ID

Those of us without a driver’s license usually use another form of ID, such as a state ID card. Having a digital version of this is a good idea. Same goes for work and student IDs.

How To Keep Your Digital ID Cards Safe

Okay, so putting your ID cards on your phone makes sense, but there are some real concerns about safety here. Yes, you can lock your phone when not in use, but when it comes to important personal info, you definitely want an extra layer of protection.

Taking a pic of your card and saving it on your camera roll probably isn’t the best idea in terms of security. Not only that, but it can be hard to find in a pinch if you have to scroll through all your other pics.

There are some workarounds here. First, many organizations will provide digital versions of your ID through an app, which will usually be password protected. Several states offer digital driver’s licenses. The same is true of car and health insurance. You can ask your provider if they have this option and how to access it.

If it’s more of a DIY thing—such as when you want to digitize your COVID vaccine card—there are some ways to make the whole thing more secure and more accessible. If you are an iPhone user, you can use your Notes app to scan and save documents. Then, you can lock your note so that it’s password protected.

I just did this with my vaccine card. Here’s how:

1. Open your Notes app and click and click on the camera icon.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

2. From there, you’ll be given a short menu of options. Click on “Scan Documents.” You’ll be able to scan your vaccine card which will then be embedded in your note.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

2. After that, click on those three little dots in the right hand corner. You’ll be given the option to “pin” the note, which means it will be at the top of your lists of notes on your app. You’ll also be given the option to “lock” the note, which means it will only be accessible via Face ID or password.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

Pretty nifty, huh?

If you have an Android, there are options as well. First, there are apps that allow you to keep your private information accessible and secure. ID Card Wallet and Folio are some examples of this. You can also use the Google Drive app to scan and save important documents. After that, you can save the scanned document to your home screen using the “drive scan” widget.

So, there you have it. I am a bit tech-phobic at times—and my kids think I’m hella old when it comes to tech stuff—but even I found this stuff pretty easy to understand and follow. I’m definitely going to be digitizing my vaccine card and other important documents. If I can do it, so can you.