The process for verifying a customer is straightforward—most of the time. Send us the first name, last name, email address, physical address, date of birth and the last four digits of the SSN. The result is a user that is referred to as a Verified Customer with access to a range of features on the Dwolla Platform.

Verified Customers have the most functionality of any Dwolla customer type. They can do things like hold a balance and take advantage of increased transaction limits. In every transaction involving Dwolla, at least one party must be verified, and in some cases, both ends of a transaction require this customer type.

Occasionally, when your customers are attempting to verify their identity, they’ll end up in ‘documentVerificationStatus’ within the API.

This can happen for a number of reasons.

It often occurs when a customer submits information that differs slightly from the information returned to us by our identity verification provider. For example, the date of birth might have been entered incorrectly. (Even though I know my birthday, I’m terrible at getting it right when I am inputting it from my smartphone.) A new home address or recently changed name could also trigger document verification.

Regardless of how your customer arrived at this point, now a form of identification needs to be submitted in order to clear the verification hurdle.

Document Verification Tips

Historically, this part of the verification process has been frustratingly difficult. We were seeing document approval rates as low as 26%! Meaning that the average person, taking the average photo of their ID, would get approved one time out of four.

Earlier this year, Dwolla set out to improve our document verification process. As a result, document approval rates have more than doubled. While this is good news, we are confident that it can be improved even further.

When we talk with customers, here are some things that set them up for a red carpet document verification experience.


Choose the right ID. For personal accounts, a current, not expired, drivers license, government issued identification card or U.S. passport is ideal. When it comes to verifying Controllers and Beneficial Owners for commercial accounts, a non-U.S. passport is a valid form of identification.

Set the Stage

Use a high-contrast background, flat surface and a well-lit area to make the image stand out.

Black background, ID card, orange human figure checkmark      Black background, ID card, orange human figure checkmark

Equipment Check

Check your camera’s settings to reduce glare, avoid using the camera flash and send a full color photo. Black and white images are typically not accepted.

Blurred ID Card in rectangle      Black background, ID card, orange human figure checkmark


The ID is the star of the show and it is ready for its closeup.

Make sure that all of the ID is in view and takes up the most photo space. For drivers licenses and government IDs, make sure that all four corners of the ID are visible within the viewfinder. Ensure that the ID is in focus and sharp. Take the shot!

Black background, Small ID card, orange human figure checkmark, white rectangle      Black background, Cropped ID card, orange human figure checkmark, white rectangle

Black background, Blurred ID card, orange human figure checkmark, white rectangle.     Black background, ID card, orange human figure checkmark

There you have it. These are a few tips that will set your end users up for the best possible document verification experience.


Stay Updated