More than 310,000 state-licensed workers in Virginia will now be able to show their credentials on their smartphones. 

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Merit, a California-based digital credentialing firm, to offer digital versions of licenses and credentials for licensed Virginia employees.

The decision affects workers in the more than 40 industries, such as barbers, plumbers, electricians, architects, cosmetologists, opticians, and tattoo artists. These professionals are required to obtain a state license from DPOR in order to work, and previously had to display or have paper copies of their licenses available. 

Workers can download and use Merit for free and receive their digital credentials at no cost. 

Gov. Ralph Northam praised the partnership, saying it would help “cut red tape and modernize what is currently an antiquated system.” 

M. Craig Toalson, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, said the partnership would benefit the more than 83,000 contractors in Virginia who need licenses. “This new system will make licensing easier for everyone involved, and will allow workers to spend less time navigating a complex paperwork process and more time focusing on the careers that they love,” Toalson said. 

With Tuesday’s announcement, Virginia becomes the first state in the nation to implement this type of digital licensing program.