Photo identification or photo ID is an identity document that includes a photograph of the holder, usually only his or her face. The most commonly accepted forms of photo ID are those issued by government authorities, such as driver's licenses, identity cards and passports, but special-purpose photo IDs may be also produced, such as internal security or access control cards.
Photo identification may be used for face-to-face authentication of identity of a party who either is personally unknown to the person in authority or because that person does not have access to a file, a directory, a registry or an information service that contains or that can render a photograph of somebody on account of that person's name and other personal information.
The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland do not have such a single type of card. Types of photo ID cards used in the US include:
- Driver's licenses, or state ID cards for non-drivers, issued by a state's Department of Motor Vehicles
- Company-issued ID cards
- Native tribal cards
Photo identification cards appear to have been first used at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Scottish-born Canadian photographer William Notman, through his affiliated business, Centennial Photographic Co., which had exclusive photographic concession at the exhibition, introduced a photo identification system that was required for all exhibitors and employees of the exhibition. The innovation was known as a "photographic ticket".