PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia’s municipal identification program, PHL City ID, officially launched today. Members of the public can now apply for and receive a PHL City ID card, which serves as an official government-issued photo ID, by visiting Room 167 in City Hall. The first 1,000 IDs will be issued free of charge.
The PHL City ID provides a secure and affordable photo identification card for anyone living in Philadelphia, age 13 and older. It is especially beneficial for those who have a hard time obtaining other forms of identification because of cost or other barriers. The PHL City ID displays the cardholder’s name, address, date of birth, and self-identified gender. It assigns a unique identification number to each Philadelphian and displays an issue and expiration date on the card. Each cardholder may include emergency contact information or medical conditions for safety purposes, space permitting. The ID is valid for five years from the date of issuance for adults and three years for youth, age 13-18.
“At its heart, creating our own municipal ID card has always been about allowing more Philadelphia residents to fully enjoy all that our city has to offer,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Not only does the PHL City ID give more Philadelphians access to the facilities and services they need, it also encourages cardholders to engage with our local cultural institutions, recreational activities, and businesses.”
The card’s low cost, flexibility of accepted documentation, and ability to self-identify gender allow more individuals to access the PHL City ID. Information about PHL City ID is available in multiple languages.
Residents can use the PHL City ID as identification within Philadelphia; to sign in to schools and City buildings; to access recreation centers; to interact with local law enforcement officials; and for other situations where identification may be required. Cardholders also have the option to get a new library card number or link an existing one to their PHL City ID so that it functions as a library card. The card does not authorize anyone to drive, travel, or enter federal buildings.
“Photo IDs are an essential part of modern life, from borrowing a library book to checking in at the emergency room,” said Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. “PHL City ID will unlock doors so that all Philadelphians can fully participate in our city’s vibrant economic and civic life.”
The City hired Omicron Technologies, Inc., a company with more than 20 years of experience in the ID business, to advise the design of the PHL City ID authentication and verification process. Airport-style document scanners and identity matching technology are used to ensure the integrity of the supporting documentation accepted when individuals apply for a municipal ID. PHL City ID cards have a number of security features, including some that are immediately visible — such as a hologram and fine line design — and others that can only be confirmed upon further inspection. The card complies with the federal government’s Level 1 identification standards for physical security features.
“We have taken great care to ensure that the PHL City ID is both accessible and secure,” said Joanna Otero-Cruz, Deputy Managing Director for Community Services. “Our team has reduced barriers that often prevent people from obtaining government identification by keeping costs low and accepting a wide range of documents from applicants. At the same time, we have ensured the security of PHL City ID cards to prevent duplication and provide reassurance to partners who will now accept this ID.”
Documents Required to Get a PHL City ID
To get a PHL City ID, applicants must prove their identity and residency in Philadelphia. The PHL City ID uses a four-point system, with specific values attached to each accepted form of documentation. Three points of identity and one point of residency are required.
Proof of identity documents must include one with a photo and one with a date of birth. Accepted documents for proof of identity include, but are not limited to:
- U.S. or foreign passport
- Veterans’ identification card
- SEPTA Key senior ID card
- U.S. or foreign driver’s license
- High school or college student ID card
- Consular Identification Card (CID)
- Face sheet issued by Philadelphia Department of Prisons or Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Accepted documents for proof of Philadelphia residency include, but are not limited to:
- Utility bill
- Bank statement
- Current lease
- Pay stub
- Letter from hospital, health clinic, shelter, or social service agency
All documents submitted with the PHL City ID application must be original and current. Copies will not be accepted, though some expired forms of ID may be accepted at a lower point value. Residents can view a full list of accepted documents through the online document guide, and the document calculator can be used to check that applicants have enough points before arriving to the PHL City ID office to begin the application process.
The process for obtaining a PHL City ID is simple and requires only a few steps.
- Appointment: The PHL City ID team can meet with applicants by appointment at City Hall, Room 167. The team can process applications on Mondays, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Tuesdays–Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Walk-ins (applicants without appointments) are accepted on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling 311. PHL City ID plans to host pop-up mobile sites with partners that will include some evening and weekend hours.
- Prescreening and Application: Upon arrival at City Hall, Room 167, residents must complete a PHL City ID application. The application can also be printed and completed in advance. A staff member will prescreen documents to ensure the applicant has enough points to prove identity and residency. The online document calculator can be used to determine point totals in advance.
- Authentication, Verification and Payment: After prescreening, proof of identity documents will be checked using a database to confirm they are not expired, fake or copies. Another database is then used to verify the Philadelphia address provided. Identifying information will not be stored or shared at any point in this process. Once the application is processed, payment is collected.
- Signature and Photo: A photo is taken and signature is collected after payment.
- Receive ID: Once all of the previous steps are completed, the PHL City ID is generated. The entire process should take around 30 minutes. At this point, all sensitive information provided to the PHL City ID team is deleted from the system except for some basic details needed to confirm the existence of a valid PHL City ID.
PHL City ID costs $5 for someone 13–17 years old, $10 for someone 18–64 years old, and is free for everyone 65 and older. Cash and money order are currently being accepted. Exact change is required when paying in cash. Money orders should be made payable to “City of Philadelphia” with “PHL City ID” in the memo section. Credit and debit cards will be accepted as payment starting in May 2019 and will be subject to a $1 processing fee.
Additional Card Benefits
In addition to its main function as a government-issued form of identification, the PHL City ID also entitles cardholders to promotions, discounts, and memberships with card benefit partners. Initial card benefit partners include:
- African American Museum of Philadelphia – Free family membership for cardholders or admission passes as requested, while supplies last.
- Free Library of Philadelphia – PHL City ID also functions as a library card.
- Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts – Discounts on Kimmel Center performances, rates will vary by show.
- Las Cazuelas Restaurant – 10% off the bill upon presentation of a PHL City ID.
- Lyft – 25% off of five rides for all new Lyft users.
- Mural Arts Philadelphia – $2 off walking tours and $5 off trolley tours.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art – $5 off adult admission, limited availability, first come-first serve.
- Philadelphia Phillies – Discounted tickets on one predetermined game per month, a list of dates and available sections will be posted online.
- Uber – $15 credit for first trip, offer valid through 2019.
- University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology – $2 general admission for up to four family members.
- Vista Peru Restaurant – Free dessert for cardholders with purchase of a meal.
- Woodmere Art Museum – $2 general admission for up to four family members.
Organizations interested in hosting a PHL City ID pop-up mobile site, can submit a request form.
The implementation of Philadelphia’s municipal ID program was guided by a diverse working group, as well as other collaborative partners, including: BenePhilly, Broad Street Ministries, CEIBA, Department of Human Services, Department of Public Property, Division of Housing and Community Development – Neighborhood Program Coordination Unit, Homeless Advocacy Project, Juntos, Keystone First Community Health Choices, Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services (RISE), Northeast Treatment Centers (NET), Office of Councilmember Helen Gym, Office of Councilmember Maria Quiñones -Sánchez, Office of Human Resources, Office of Immigrant Affairs, Office of LGBT Affairs, Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), Philadelphia Department of Prisons, Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Youth Network, Philly311, PHLDiversity, Prevention Point Philadelphia, Salvation Army – A New Day to Stop Human Trafficking, SEAMACC, United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey, and William Way LGBT Community Center.
More information about the municipal ID program can be found at phila.gov/PHLcityID.
Stock photos and b-roll are available for members of the media upon request.