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Pennsylvania Driver’s License Drops Magnetic Stripe – Sparks Change for ID Scanner Users

As of June 19, 2017, Pennsylvania drivers will be experiencing a drastic change on their driver’s licenses, but for the drivers themselves, one particular change may be easy to overlook: the removal of a magnetic stripe from the back of the license. For professionals and officials using ID verification scanners, it poses a larger issue. For any businesses that don’t currently have a 2D bar code scanner, they will need to upgrade their equipment in order to be able to read the new license.

In addition to the removal of the magnetic stripe, the new Pennsylvania driver’s license features some other security-enhancing updates, but is still not yet REAL-ID compliant. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) anticipates that a REAL-ID-compliant license will be available in 2019. Some other features on the new license include:

  • Larger primary portrait and smaller ghost portrait
  • A 2D barcode on the front of the card that contains data unique to the cardholder
  • Laser perforation — The keystone outline with “PA” is embedded into the card and can be seen by holding the card up to a light source
  • Laminate — Each card is laminated with an optically-variable pattern with the state motto, “Virtue, Liberty, Independence;” Keystone outline; and “1787,” the year when the U.S. Constitution was ratified by Pennsylvania.

The old Pennsylvania license:

Old Pennsylvania Driver's License Design

New Pennsylvania driver’s license, featuring several changes in addition to the replacement of a magnetic stripe with a 2D barcode:

New Pennsylvania Driver's License removes magnetic stripe

By the end of October, 2017, Pennsylvania driver’s license centers will have transitioned to the new design, rolling out over the next 4 years as current licenses expire and require renewal. Current license-holders are not required to change their license and may wait until it expires for the upgrade.

More information can be found at PA.gov here.