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What’s the Difference Between Registering as a Donor and “Checking the Box”?

We are often asked, what’s the difference between “checking the box” and registering as a donor. LifeSource uses both to reference the same action. Registering to be a donor can happen online, in the health app of an Apple device, on a hunting/fishing license or at the DMV. “Checking the box” specifically refers to registering at the DMV when filling out the paper form for a license or ID.

What Do I Need to Do to Become an Organ Donor?

If you want to help others through organ, eye and tissue donation after your death, all you need to do is register as a donor. You can register online, at the DMV, on your hunting/fishing license, or on an Apple device in the health app. Anyone can register to be a donor.

Registering as a donor is a way to leave instructions for your loved ones after you pass away and let them know you made this decision for yourself during your lifetime. However, registering does not guarantee you will be a donor after you pass away.

Learn more about what it means to be registered as a donor.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Registered as a Donor Become an Organ Donor?

For a person to become an organ donor they must pass away under unique circumstances. In general, a person would need to:

  1. Experience brain death or a non-survivable injury
  2. Pass away in a hospital
  3. Be on ventilated support

If a person who is registered as a donor does not pass away under these circumstances, it is still possible for them to save and heal lives through tissue and/or eye donation.

Is “Checking the Box” at the DMV the Same as Registering as a Donor?


“Checking the Box” is just another way of saying you’ve registered as a donor. In fact, there are a few ways to register as a donor and they are all valid. Registering multiple ways, like online and at the DMV, is welcome, however, we do check all databases and only need one registration to honor your wishes.

What Are the Steps to Becoming an Organ Donor?

There is only one step in the process to become an organ donor that is in anyone’s control – registering as a donor.

It is also helpful to share your decision with family and friends. When your loved ones know what you want after you’ve passed away, they are better prepared to honor your decision.

Learn more about the organ donation process.

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