5 things to know before choosing a GOV.UK Verify certified identity provider

If you want to access secure services at GOV.UK you need have a secure ID account. But it’s not the government that supplies you with this secure ID, it’s a private company.

SecureIdentity is one of seven services “certified” by Government to verify your ID and protect your privacy at GOV.UK.

As part of our development programme, we’ve spoken to thousands of people who expect to start using GOV.UK soon.

Whenever we explain the new GOV.UK Verify process to them the first questions they always ask us are: Why are private companies involved and how do I choose between them?

Why are seven different companies offering ID verification at GOV.UK?

The Government knows that security online is changing all the time. It believes that the best way to make sure that citizens can benefit from the very latest security is to introduce competition.

That’s why they’ve certified a number of services to validate your ID at GOV.UK Verify. The Government explains the idea of certified companies like this:

“Certified companies (also known as ‘identity providers’) are organisations that have met government and industry standards to provide identity assurance services as part of GOV.UK Verify”

In a competitive market, with seven different companies competing for your “business”, you can be pretty sure that the most advanced security systems will always be on offer.

How do I choose between the certified companies?

The idea of choosing a certified company to keep your identity safe is new.

At the moment, it’s pretty difficult to know what you should be looking for when you need to choose a provider to create your secure online identity. On the face of it, all providers might look very much the same.

Some basics you should know before you choose a certified company at GOV.UK Verify

No matter which provider you choose, the verification process will take about 10 minutes. Since all providers meet certification standards set out by the Government, you can be sure that any provider you choose has already convinced the Government that they’re up to the job and should be able to safely protect your identity online.

The big differences between suppliers will only become apparent in time. It’s a little bit like when the Government privatised BT and created competition in the UK telecoms market. At first, it was quite difficult to see any difference in the services provided, but these days, BT looks quite different to Virgin Media or TalkTalk.

When we ask people why they choose SecureIdentity, they say they like the fact we’re secure identity specialists who have been working with Governments behind the scenes to protect citizen’s privacy for over 20 years. They like that the security features we can offer go way beyond the standards set out by GOV.UK for certified identity providers, and they like the fact that we don’t do lots of other stuff too, like retail, banking, consumer credit or credit checking services.

But SecureIdentity is not the only choice and it’s not everyone’s choice. Some like the idea of having a secure ID with a company they already use for other things, like banking or online shopping.

What is clear is that almost everyone just wants the process of verifying their identity at GOV.UK to be as simple and straightforward as possible. So here are five facts worth knowing before you choose an ID provider at GOV.UK Verify.

Choosing a certified identity provider for GOV.UK Verify: 5 Key things to know

  1. All services are free.
  2. All certified providers meet government defined standards.
  3. The verify process will always take about 10 minutes regardless of supplier.
  4. You’ll need to have some form of ID to hand, like a passport or a UK driving licence.
  5. You can change your supplier at no cost whenever you want.