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What is Gov.uk Verify? All the facts on the UK’s online identity service

The UK has announced plans to scale up Gov.uk Verify to help deal with the huge amount of traffic ushered in by the coronavirus.

Gov.uk Verify is a government-run identification service that lets you to prove your identity online. You don’t need to be a citizen to use Verify – anyone with a UK address can create an account to access over 20 government services, including Universal Credit and to check their State Pension.

Right now, there are two identity providers you can choose from when signing up through Gov.uk Verify: Digidentity and the Post Office. Verify temporarily changed this approach early in the lockdown, directing users to one provider or the other to avoid creating a queue. The service has since relaxed measures and now lets users to choose their own provider.

Once you’ve chosen a provider, you’ll be asked to confirm your identity by entering a number of personal details. The provider will then take some time (usually around 5 to 15 minutes) to check that this information matches up with records held by other services, including mobile providers, credit agencies, the passport office or the DVLA.

Once the verification process is complete, you’ll only need to flash your digital ID to access loads of important government services in minutes.

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Gov.uk claims its online identification service is safe because information is not stored in one place or shared unnecessarily. The government department does not know which identity provider you’ve chosen to use and both providers are required to meet government and international standards for security and data protection.

So, why is Verify getting attention now? According to the government, it could have something to do with the recent surge in citizens seeking out financial support through Universal Credit. Before the pandemic, Verify would receive around 35,000 applications a week. This number has grown quickly over the last two months, with over 640,000 new accounts created just between March 16 and April 26.

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Universal Credit isn’t the only government service that uses Verify. You can also use your digital ID for other areas including business, driving and transport licences, requesting DBS checks, taxes and pensions.

To create a Gov.uk Verify account, you’ll need to do so through one of the government services Verify supports. However, once you’ve verified this account, you’ll be able to use it to access any number of government services supported by the digital ID.

You can find a list of government services that use Verify on Gov.uk. From there, all you need to do is follow the steps given to verify your identity through either Digidentity or the Post Office.

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