Identity document

"National identity card" redirects here. For cards referred to in the English language as "national identity card", see National identity card (disambiguation).

An identity document (also called a piece of identification or ID, or colloquially as papers) is any document which may be used to prove a person's identity. If issued in a small, standard credit card size form, it is usually called an identity card (IC or ID card). Some countries issue formal identity documents, while others may require identity verification using informal documents. When the identity document incorporates a person's photograph, it may be called photo ID.

In the absence of a formal identity document, a driver's license may be accepted in many countries for identity verification. Some countries do not accept driver's licenses for identification, often because in those countries they do not expire as documents and can be old or easily forged. Most countries accept passports as a form of identification. Some countries require all people to have an identity document available at any time. Many countries require all foreigners to have a passport or occasionally a national identity card from their country available at any time if they do not have a residence permit in the country.

The identity document is used to connect a person to information about the person, often in a database. The photo and the possession of it is used to connect the person with the document. The connection between the identity document and information database is based on personal information present on the document, such as the bearer's full name, age, birth date, address, an identification number, card number, gender, citizenship and more. A unique national identification number is the most secure way, but some countries lack such numbers or don't write them on identity documents.


A version of the passport considered to be the earliest identity document inscribed into law was introduced by King Henry V of England with the Safe Conducts Act 1414.[1]

For the next 500 years and before World War I, most people did not have or need an identity document.

Photographic identification appeared in 1876[2] but it did not become widely used until the early 20th century when photographs became part of passports and other ID documents such as driver's licenses, all of which came to be referred to as "photo IDs". Both Australia and Great Britain, for example, introduced the requirement for a photographic passport in 1915 after the so-called Lody spy scandal.[3]

The shape and size of identity cards were standardized in 1985 by ISO/IEC 7810. Some modern identity documents are smart cards including a difficult-to-forge embedded integrated circuit, that were standardized in 1988 by ISO/IEC 7816. New technologies allow identity cards to contain biometric information, such as photographs, face, hand or iris measurements, or fingerprints. Electronic identity cards (or e-IDs) are already available in countries including Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

Adoption of identity cards

Law enforcement officials claim that identity cards make surveillance and the search for criminals easier and consequently support the universal adoption of identity cards. In countries that don't have a national identity card, there is, however, concern about the projected large costs and potential abuse of high-tech smartcards.

In many countries - and especially English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States - there are no government-issued compulsory identity cards.

There is debate in these countries about whether such cards and their centralised database would constitute an infringement of privacy and civil liberties. Most criticism is directed towards the enhanced possibilities of extensive abuse of centralised and comprehensive databases storing sensitive data. A 2006 survey of UK Open University students concluded that the planned compulsory identity card under the Identity Cards Act 2006 coupled with a central government database generated the most negative attitudinal response among several alternative configurations. None of the countries listed above mandate possession of identity documents, but they have de facto equivalents since these countries still require proof of identity in many situations. For example, all vehicle drivers must have a driving licence, and young people may need to use specially issued proof of age cards when purchasing alcohol. In addition, and uniquely amongst native English speaking countries without ID cards, the USA require all its male residents between the ages of 18 and 25, including foreigners, to register for military conscription.

Arguments for

Arguments for identity documents as such:

Arguments for national identity documents:

Arguments against

Further information: freedom of movement and Propiska

Arguments against identity documents as such:

Arguments against national identity documents:

Arguments against overuse or abuse of identity documents:

National policies

According to Privacy International, as of 1996, possession of identity cards was compulsory in about 100 countries, though what constitutes "compulsory" varies. In some countries (see below), it is compulsory to have an identity card when a person reaches a prescribed age. The penalty for non-possession is usually a fine, but in some cases it may result in detention until identity is established. For people suspected with crimes such as shoplifting or no bus ticket, non-possession might result in such detention, also in countries not formally requiring identity cards. In practice, random checks are rare, except in certain times.

A number of countries do not have national identity cards. These include Andorra, Australia, Canada, Denmark, India (see below), Japan, New Zealand, Norway,[11] the United Kingdom. Other identity documents such as passports or driver's licenses are then used as identity documents when needed.

A number of countries have voluntary identity card schemes. These include Austria, Finland, France (see France section), Hungary (however, all citizens of Hungary must have at least one of: valid passport, photocard driving licence, or the National ID card), Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland. The United Kingdom's scheme was scrapped in January 2011 and the database was destroyed.

In the United States, the Federal government issues optional identity cards know as "Passport Cards" (which include important information such as the nationality). In the other hand, states issue optional identity cards for people who do not hold a driver's license as an alternate means of identification. These cards are issued by the same organization responsible for driver's licenses, usually called the Department of Motor Vehicles.

For the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara, pre-1975 Spanish identity cards are the main proof that they were Saharawi citizens as opposed to recent Moroccan colonists. They would thus be allowed to vote in an eventual self-determination referendum.

Companies and government departments may issue ID cards for security purposes or proof of a qualification. For example, all taxicab drivers in the UK carry ID cards. Managers, supervisors, and operatives in construction in the UK have a photographic ID card, the CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card, indicating training and skills including safety training. Those working on UK railway lands near working lines must carry a photographic ID card to indicate training in track safety (PTS and other cards) possession of which is dependent on periodic and random alcohol and drug screening. In Queensland and Western Australia, anyone working with children has to take a background check and get issued a Blue Card or Working with Children Card, respectively.



It is compulsory for all Egyptian citizens age 16 or older to possess ID card (Arabic: بطاقة تحقيق شخصية Biṭāqat taḥqīq shakhṣiyya, literally, "Personal Verification Card"). In daily colloquial speech, it is generally simply called "el-biṭāqa ("the card"). It is used for:

Egyptian ID cards consist of 14 digits, the national identity number, and expire after 7 years from the date of issue. Some feel that Egyptian ID cards are problematic, due to the general poor quality of card holders' photographs and the compulsory requirements for ID card holders to identify their religion and for married women to use their husband's surname.


Every citizen of Tunisia is expected to apply for an ID card by the age of 18; however, with the approval of a parent, a Tunisian citizen may apply for, and receive, an ID card prior to their eighteenth birthday.

Gambia, The

All Gambian citizens over 18 years of age are required to hold a Gambian National Identity Card. In July 2009, a new biometric Identity card was introduced. The biometric National Identity card is one of the acceptable documents required to apply for a Gambian Driving Licence.


Mauritius requires all citizens who have reached the age of 18 to apply for a National Identity Card. The National Identity Card is one of the few accepted forms of identification, along with passports. A National Identity Card is needed to apply for a passport for all adults, and all minors must take with them the National Identity Card of a parent when applying for a passport.[12]


Nigeria first introduced a National Identity Card in 2005, but its adoption back then was limited and not widespread. The country is now in the process of introducing a new biometric ID Card complete with a SmartCard and other security features. The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) [13] is the Federal Government Agency responsible for the issuance of these new cards, as well as the management of the new National Identity Database. The Federal Government of Nigeria announced in April 2013 [14] that after the next General Election in 2015, all subsequent elections will require that voters will only be eligible to stand for office or vote provided the Citizen possesses a NIMC-issued Identity Card. The Central Bank of Nigeria is also looking into instructing banks to request for a National Identity Number (NIN) for any citizen maintaining an account with any of the banks operating in Nigeria. The proposed kick off date is yet to be determined.

South Africa

Old South African identity card issued to a permanent resident (PR).

South African citizens aged 15 years and 6 months or older are eligible for an ID card. The South African identity document is not valid as a travel document or valid for use outside South Africa. Although carrying the document is not required in daily life, it is necessary to show the document or a certified copy as proof of identity when:

The South African identity document used to also contain driving and firearms licences; however, these documents are now issued separately in card format. In mid 2013 a smart card ID was launched to replace the ID book. The cards were launched on 18 July 2013 when a number of dignitaries received the first cards at a ceremony in Pretoria.[15] The government plans to have the ID books phased out over a six to eight-year period.[16] The South African government is looking into possibly using this smart card not just as an identification card but also for licences, National Health Insurance, and social grants.[17]


Zimbabweans are required to apply for National Registration at the age of sixteen. Zimbabwean citizens are issued with a plastic card which contains a photograph and their particulars onto it. Before the introduction of the plastic card, the Zimbabwean ID card used to be printed on anodised aluminium. Along with Driving Licences, the National Registration Card (including the old metal type) is universally accepted as proof of identity in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are required by law to carry identification on them at all times and visitors to Zimbabwe are expected to carry their passport with them at all times.



Bahraini citizens must have both an ID card, called a "smart card", that is recognized as an official document and can be used within the Gulf Cooperation Council and a passport, that is recognized worldwide.


Biometric identification has existed in Bangladesh since 2008. All Bangladeshis who are 18 years of age and older are included in a central Biometric Database, which is used by the Bangladesh Election Commission to oversee the electoral procedure in Bangladesh. All Bangladeshis are issued with an NID Card which can be used to obtain a passport, Driving Licence, credit card, and to register land ownership.


Chinese second generation ID card

Chinese second generation ID card

The People's Republic of China requires each of its citizens aged 16 and over to carry an identity card. The card is the only acceptable legal document to obtain employment, a residence permit, driving licence or passport and to open bank accounts or apply for entry to tertiary education and technical colleges.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Identity Card (or HKID) is an official identity document issued by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong to all people who hold the right of abode, right to land or other forms of limited stay longer than 180 days in Hong Kong. According to Basic Law of Hong Kong, all permanent residents are eligible to obtain the Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card which states that the holder has the right of abode in Hong Kong.


Multi-purpose national identity cards, carrying 16 personal details and a unique identification number are issued to all citizens since 2007. Biometric data such as fingerprints and a digital signature are contained in a microchip embedded in the card. On it are details of the holder's date and place of birth and a unique 16-digit National Identification Number. The card has a SCOSTA QR code embedded on the card, through which all the details on the card are accessible.[18]


Residents over 17 are required to hold a KTP (Kartu Tanda Penduduk) identity card. The card will identifies whether the holder is an Indonesian citizen or foreign national. In 2011, the Indonesian government started a two-year ID issuance campaign that utilizes smartcard technology and biometric duplication of fingerprint and iris recognition. This card, called the Electronic KTP (e-KTP), will replace the conventional ID (KTP) beginning in 2013. By 2013, it is estimated that approximately 172 million Indonesian nationals will have an e-KTP issued to them.


Every citizen of Iran has an Identification document called Shenasnameh (Persian:شناسنامه) which is a booklet based on their birth certificate, in the Shenasnameh National ID number, Birth date, Birthplace, Father and Mother names birth dates and National ID numbers would be registered. Also in other pages of the Shenasnameh Marriage status, Spouse(s) name(s), Children names, Date of every vote they give and also their death would be registered.[19]

Every Iranian permanent resident above the age of 15 must hold a valid National Identity Card (Persian:کارت ملی) or at least obtain their unique National Number from any of the local Vital Records branches of the Iranian Ministry of Interior.[20]

In order to apply for an NID card, the applicant must be at least 15 years old and have a photograph attached to their Birth Certificate, which is undertaken by the Vital Records branch.

Since June 21, 2008, NID cards have been compulsory for many things in Iran and Iranian Missions abroad (e.g., obtaining a passport, driver's license, any banking procedure,etc.)[21]


Main article: Iraq National Card

Every Iraqi citizen must have a Nationality Certificate (شهادة الجنسية) and a civil Identification Document (هوية الأحوال المدنية). In 2016 both documents were replaced with National Card (البطاقة الوطنية).


Main article: Teudat Zehut

Israeli law requires every permanent resident above the age of 16, whether a citizen or not, to carry an identification card called te'udat zehut (Hebrew: תעודת זהות) in Hebrew or biţāqat huwīya (بطاقة هوية) in Arabic.

The card is designed in a bilingual form, printed in Hebrew and Arabic, however, the personal data is presented in Hebrew by default and may be presented in Arabic as well if the owner decides so. The card must be presented to an official on duty (e.g., a policeman) upon request, but if the resident is unable to do this, one may contact the relevant authority within five days to avoid a penalty.

Until the mid-1990s, the identification card was considered the only legally reliable document for many actions such as voting or opening a bank account. Since then, the new Israeli driver's licenses which include photos and extra personal information are now considered equally reliable for most of these transactions. In other situations any government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or a military ID, may suffice.

Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Authority Issues Identification card following agreements with Israel since 1995 in accordance to the Oslo Accords, the data is forwarded to Israeli database and confirmed. In February 2014, a presidential decision issued by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to abolish the religion field was announced.[22] Israel has objected to abolishing religion on Palestinian IDs because it controls their official records, IDs and passports and the PA does not have the right to make amendments to this effect without the prior approval of Israel, Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said that abolishing religion on the ID has been at the center of negotiations with Israel since 1995. The decision was criticized by Hamas officials in Gaza Strip, saying it is unconstitutional and will not be implemented in Gaza because it undermines the Palestinian cause.[23]


Japanese citizens are not required to have identification documents with them within the territory of Japan. When necessary, official documents, such as one's Japanese driver's license, basic resident registration card,[24] radio operator license,[25] social insurance card, health insurance card or passport are generally used and accepted. On the other hand, mid- to long term foreign residents are required to carry their Zairyū cards,[26] while short term visitors and tourists (those with a Temporary Visitor status sticker in their passport) are required to carry their passports.


The Macau Resident Identity Card is an official identity document issued by the Identification Department to permanent residents and non-permanent residents.


Main article: MyKad

In Malaysia, the MyKad is the compulsory identity document for Malaysian citizens aged 12 and above. Introduced by the National Registration Department of Malaysia on 5 September 2001 as one of four MSC Malaysia flagship applications[27] and a replacement for the High Quality Identity Card (Kad Pengenalan Bermutu Tinggi), Malaysia became the first country in the world to use an identification card that incorporates both photo identification and fingerprint biometric data on an in-built computer chip embedded in a piece of plastic.[28]


Myanmar citizens are required to obtain a National Registration Card (NRC), while non-citizens are given a Foreign Registration Card (FRC).


Pakistan Smart National ID Card

In Pakistan, all adult citizens must register for the Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), with a unique number, at age 18. CNIC serves as an identification document to authenticate an individual's identity as a citizen of Pakistan.

Earlier on, National Identity Cards (NICs) were issued to citizens of Pakistan. Now government has shifted all its existing records of National Identity Cards (NIC) to the central computerized database managed by NADRA. New CNIC's are machine readable and have security features such as facial and finger print information. At the end of 2013, Smart national identity cards, SNICs, were also made available.


In Singapore, every citizen, and permanent resident (PR) must register at the age of 15 for an Identity Card (IC). The card is necessary not only for procedures of state but also in the day-to-day transactions of registering for a mobile phone line, obtaining certain discounts at stores, and logging on to certain websites on the internet. Schools frequently use it to identify students, both on-line and in exams.[29]

South Korea

Every citizen of South Korea over the age 17 is issued an ID card called Jumindeungrokjeung (주민등록증) and required to carry it always. A small fine can be charged if one doesn't carry it. It has had several changes in its history, the most recent form is a plastic card meeting the ISO 7810 standard. The card has the holder's photo and a 15 digit ID number calculated from the holder's birthday and birthplace. A hologram technology is applied for the purpose of hampering forgery. This card has no additional features used to identify the holder except comparing the photo and a holder's face. Other than this card, the South Korean Government accepts a driver's license card, a passport and a public officer ID card as an official ID card.

Sri Lanka

The E-National Identity Card (abbreviation: E-NIC) is the identity document in use in Sri Lanka. It is compulsory for all Sri Lankan citizens who are sixteen years of age and older to have a NIC. NICs are issued from the Department for Registration of Persons. The Registration of Persons Act No.32 of 1968 as amended by Act Nos 28 and 37 of 1971 and Act No.11 of 1981 legislates the issuance and usage of NICs.

Sri Lanka is in the process of developing a Smart Card based RFID NIC card which will replace the obsolete 'laminated type' cards by storing the holders information on a chip that can be read by banks, offices, etc., thereby reducing the need to have documentation of these data physically by storing in the cloud.

The NIC number is used for unique personal identification, similar to the social security number in the US.

In Sri Lanka, all citizens over the age of 16 need to apply for a National Identity Card (NIC). Each NIC has a unique 10 digit number, in the format 000000000A (where 0 is a digit and A is a letter). The first two digits of the number are your year of birth (e.g.: 93xxxxxxxx for someone born in 1993). The final letter is generally a 'V' or 'X'. An NIC number is required to apply for a passport (over 16), driving license (over 18) and to vote (over 18). In addition, all citizens are required to carry their NIC on them at all times as proof of identity, given the security situation in the country. NICs are not issued to non-citizens, who are still required to carry a form of photo identification (such as a photocopy of their passport or foreign driving license) at all times. At times the Postal ID card may also be used.


ID card issued in Taiwan

The "National Identification Card" (Chinese: 國民身分證) is issued to all nationals of the Republic of China (Official name of Taiwan) aged 14 and older who have household registration in the Taiwan area. The Identification Card is used for virtually all activities that require identity verification within Taiwan such as opening bank accounts, renting apartments, employment applications and voting.

The Identification Card contains the holder's photo, ID number, Chinese name, and (Minguo calendar) date of birth. The back of the card also contains the person's registered address where official correspondence is sent, place of birth, and the names of parents and spouse.

If residents move, they must re-register at a municipal office (Chinese: 戶政事務所).

ROC nationals with household registration in Taiwan are known as "registered nationals". ROC nationals who do not have household registration in Taiwan (known as "unregistered nationals") do not qualify for the Identification Card and its associated privileges (e.g., the right to vote and the right of abode in Taiwan), but qualify for the Republic of China passport, which unlike the Identification Card, is not indicative of residency rights in Taiwan. If such "unregistered nationals" are resident in Taiwan, they will hold a Taiwan Area Resident Certificate as an identity document, which is nearly identical to the Alien Resident Certificate issued to foreign nationals/citizens resident in Taiwan.


Main article: Thai national ID card

In Thailand, The Thai National ID Card (Thai: บัตรประจำตัวประชาชน; RTGS: bat pracham tua pracha chon) is an official identity document, issued only to Thai Nationals. The purpose of the card is to prove and identify the holder's identity, for receiving government services and other entitlements.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) is a federal authority that is responsible for issuing the National Identity Cards for the citizens (UAE nationals), GCC (Gulf Corporation Council) nationals and residents in the country. All individuals are mandated to apply for the ID card at all ages. For individuals of 15 years and above, fingerprint biometrics (10 fingerprints, palm, and writer) are captured in the registration process. Each person has a unique 15-digit identification number (IDN) that a person holds throughout his/her life.

The Identity Card is a smart card that has a state-of-art technology in the smart cards field with very high security features which make it difficult to duplicate. It is a 144KB Combi Smart Card, where the electronic chip includes personal information, 2 fingerprints, 4-digit pin code, digital signature, and certificates (digital and encryption). Personal photo, IDN, name, date of birth, signature, nationality, and the ID card expiry date are fields visible on the physical card.

In the UAE it is used as an official identification document for all individuals to benefit from services in the government, some of the non-government, and private entities in the UAE. This supports the UAE’s vision of smart government as the ID card is used to securely access e-services in the country. The ID card could also be used by citizens as an official travel document between GCC countries instead of using passports. The implementation of the national ID program in the UAE enhanced security of the individuals by protecting their identities and preventing identity theft. [30]


In Vietnam, all citizens above 14 years old must possess a People's Identity Card provided by the local authority.


European Union

Within the European Union, identity cards meeting jointly agreed standards may also be used by a European citizen as a travel document in place of a passport.

During the UK Presidency of the EU in 2005 a decision was made to: "Agree common standards for security features and secure issuing procedures for ID cards (December 2005), with detailed standards agreed as soon as possible thereafter. In this respect, the UK Presidency put forward a proposal for the EU-wide use of biometrics in national identity cards".[31]

Belgian national identity card

In Belgium, everyone above the age of 12 is issued an identity card (carte d'identité in French, identiteitskaart in Dutch and Personalausweis in German), and from the age of 15 carrying this card at all times is mandatory. For foreigners residing in Belgium similar cards (foreigner's cards, vreemdelingenkaart in Dutch, carte pour étrangers in French) are issued, although they may also carry a passport, a work permit or a (temporary) residence permit.

Since 2000, all newly issued Belgian identity cards have a chip (eID card), and roll-out of these cards is expected to be complete in the course of 2009. Since early 2009, the aforementioned foreigner's card has also been replaced by an eID card, containing a similar chip. The eID cards can be used both in the public and private sector for identification and for the creation of legally binding electronic signatures.

Belgian consulates still issue old style ID cards (105 x 75 mm) to Belgian citizens who are permanently residing in their jurisdiction and who choose to be registered at the consulate (which is strongly advised).


In Bulgaria, it is obligatory to possess an identity card (Bulgarian - лична карта, lichna karta) at the age of 14. Any person above 14 being checked by the police without carrying at least some form of identification is liable to a fine of 50 Bulgarian levs (about €25).


All Croatian citizens may request an Identity Card, called Osobna iskaznica (literally Personal card). All persons over the age of 18 must have an Identity Card and carry it at all times. Refusal to carry or produce an Identity Card to a police officer can lead to a fine of 100 kuna or more and detention until the individual's identity can be verified by fingerprints.

Croatian ID card is valid in the entire European Union, and can also be used to travel throughout the non-EU countries of the Balkans.

The 2013 design of the Croatian ID card is prepared for future installation of an Electronic identity card chip, which is set for implementation in 2014.[32]


The acquisition and possession of a Civil Identity Card is compulsory for any eligible person who has reached twelve years of age. On 29 January 2015, it was announced that all future IDs to be issued will be biometric.[33]

Czech Republic

An identity card with a photo is issued to all citizens of the Czech Republic at the age of 15. It is officially recognised by all member states of the European Union for intra EU travel. Travelling outside the EU mostly requires the Czech passport.


Denmark is one of few EU countries that currently do not issue national identity cards (not counting driving licences and passports issued for other purposes).

Danish citizens are not required by law to carry an identity card. A traditional identity document (without photo), the personal identification number certificate (Danish:Personnummerbevis) is of little use in Danish society, as it has been largely replaced by the much more versatile National Health Insurance Card (Danish:Sundhedskortet) which contains the same information and more. The National Health Insurance Card is issued to all citizens age 12 and above. It is commonly referred to as an identity card despite the fact it has no photo of the holder. Both certificates retrieve their information from the Civil Registration System. However, the personnummerbevis is still issued today and has been since September 1968.

Danish driver's licenses and passports are the only identity cards issued by the government containing both the personal identification number and a photo. A foreign citizen without driving skills living in Denmark can not get such documents. Foreign driving licenses and passports are accepted with limitations. A foreigner living in Denmark will have a residence permit with their personal identification number and a photo.

In Denmark, since 2004, counties have issued a "photo identity card" (Danish: billedlegitimationskort), which can be used as age verification, but it is limited for identification purposes because of limited security for issuing, and it is not valid for EU travel.

Until 2004, the national debit card Dankort contained a photo of the holder and was widely accepted as an identity card. The Danish banks lobbied successfully to have pictures removed from the national debit cards and so since 2004 the Dankort has no longer contained a photo. Hence it is rarely accepted for identification.

Main article: Estonian ID card

The Estonian identity card (Estonian: ID-kaart) is a chipped picture ID in the Republic of Estonia. An Estonian identity card is officially recognised by all member states of the European Union for intra EU travel. For travelling outside the EU, Estonian citizens may also require a passport.

The card's chip stores a key pair, allowing users to cryptographically sign digital documents based on principles of public key cryptography using DigiDoc. Under Estonian law, since 15 December 2000 the cryptographic signature is legally equivalent to a manual signature.

The Estonian identity card is also used for authentication in Estonia's ambitious Internet-based voting programme. In February 2007, Estonia was the first country in the world to institute electronic voting for parliamentary elections. Over 30 000 voters participated in the country's first e-election.[34] By 2014, at the European Parliament elections, the number of e-voters has increased to more than 100,000 comprising 31% of the total votes cast.[35]

Main article: Finnish identity card

In Finland, any citizen can get an identification card (henkilökortti/identitetskort). This, along with the passport, is one of two official identity documents. It is available as an electronic ID card (sähköinen henkilökortti/elektroniskt identitetskort), which enables logging into certain government services on the Internet.

Driving licenses and KELA (social security) cards with a photo are also widely used for general identification purposes even though they are not officially recognized as such. However, KELA has ended the practice of issuing social security cards with the photograph of the bearer, while it has become possible to embed the social security information onto the national ID card. For most purposes when identification is required, only valid documents are ID card, passport or driving license. However, a citizen is not required to carry any of these.


France has had a national ID card for all citizens since the beginning of World War II in 1940. Compulsory identity documents were created before, for workers from 1803 to 1890, nomads (gens du voyage) in 1912, and foreigners in 1917 during World War I. National identity cards were first issued as the carte d'identité Française under the law of October 27, 1940, and were compulsory for everyone over the age of 16. Identity cards were valid for 10 years, had to be updated within a year in case of change of residence, and their renewal required paying a fee. Under the Vichy regime, in addition to the face photograph, the family name, first names, date and place of birth, the card included the national identity number managed by the national statistics INSEE, which is also used as the national service registration number, as the Social Security account number for health and retirement benefits, for access to court files and for tax purposes. Under the decree 55-1397 of October 22, 1955[36][37] a revised non-compulsory card, the carte nationale d'identité (CNI) was introduced.

The law (Art. 78-1 to 78-6 of the French Code of criminal procedure (Code de procédure pénale)[38] mentions only that during an ID check performed by police, gendarmerie or customs officer, one can prove his identity "by any means", the validity of which is left to the judgment of the law enforcement official. Though not stated explicitly in the law, an ID card, a driving licence, a passport, a visa, a Carte de Séjour, a voting card are sufficient according to jurisprudency. The decision to accept other documents, with or without the bearer's photograph, like a Social Security card, a travel card or a bank card, is left to the discretion of the law enforcement officer.

According to Art. 78-2 of the French Penal Procedure Code ID checks are only possible:[39]

The last case allows checks of passers-by ID by the police, especially in neighborhoods with a higher criminality rate which are often the poorest at the condition, according to the Cour de cassation, that the policeman doesn't refer only to "general and abstract conditions" but to "particular circumstances able to characterise a risk of breach of public order and in particular an offence against the safety of persons or property" (Cass. crim. 05/12/1999, n°99-81153, Bull., n°95).

In case of necessity to establish your identity, not being able to prove it "by any means" (for example the legality of a road traffic procès-verbal depends of it), may lead to a temporary arrest (vérification d'identité) of up to 4 hours for the time strictly required for ascertaining your identity according to art. 78-3 of the French Code of criminal procedure (Code de procédure pénale).[38]

For financial transactions, ID cards and passports are almost always accepted as proof of identity. Due to possible forgery, driver's licenses are sometimes refused. For transactions by cheque involving a larger sum, two different ID documents are frequently requested by merchants.

The current identification cards are now issued free of charge and optional. The current government has proposed a compulsory biometric card system, which has been opposed by human rights groups and by the national authority and regulator on computing systems and databases, the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés, CNIL. Another non-compulsory project is being discussed.

Main article: German identity card
Specimen of a German identity card issued since November 2010.

It is compulsory for all German citizens aged 16 or older to possess either a Personalausweis (identity card) or a passport but not to carry one. Police officers and other officials have a right to demand to see one of those documents (obligation of identification); however the law does not state that one is obliged to submit the document at that very moment. But as driver's licences, although in practice widely accepted, are not legally accepted forms of identification in Germany, people usually choose to carry their Personalausweis with them. Beginning in November 2010, German ID cards are issued in the ID-1 format and can also contain an integrated digital signature, if so desired. Until October 2010, German ID cards were issued in ISO/IEC 7810 ID-2 format. The cards have a photograph and a chip with biometric data, including, optionally, fingerprints.


Gibraltar has operated an identity card system since 1943.

The cards issued were originally folded cardboard, similar to the wartime UK Identity cards abolished in 1950. There were different colours for British and non-British residents. Gibraltar requires all residents to hold identity cards, which are issued free.

In 1993 the cardboard ID card was replaced with a laminated version. However, although valid as a travel document to the UK, they were not accepted by Spain.

A new version in an EU compliant format was issued and is valid for use around the EU although as very few are seen there are sometimes problems in its use, even in the UK. ID cards are needed for some financial transactions, but apart from that and to cross the frontier with Spain, they are not in common use.

Main article: Greek identity card
Greek ID card (front)

A compulsory, universal ID system based on personal ID cards has been in place in Greece since World War II. ID cards are issued by the police on behalf of the Headquarters of the Police (previously issued by the Ministry of Public Order, now incorporated in the Ministry of Internal Affairs) and display the holder's signature, standardized face photograph, name and surname, father's name and surname, mother's name and maiden surname, date and place of birth, height, municipality, and the issuing police precinct. There are also two optional fields designed to facilitate emergency medical care: ABO and Rhesus factor blood typing.

Fields included in previous ID card formats, such as vocation or profession, religious denomination, domiciliary address, name and surname of spouse, fingerprint, eye and hair color, citizenship and ethnicity were removed permanently as being intrusive of personal data and/or superfluous for the sole purpose of personal identification.

Since 2000, name fields have been filled in both Greek and Latin characters. According to the Signpost Service of the European Commission [reply to Enquiry 36581], old type Greek ID cards "are as valid as the new type according to Greek law and thus they constitute valid travel documents that all other EU Member States are obliged to accept". In addition to being equivalent to passports within the European Economic Area, Greek ID cards are the principal means of identification of voters during elections.

Since 2005, the procedure to issue an ID card has been automated and now all citizens over 12 years of age must have an ID card, which is issued within one work day. Prior to that date, the age of compulsory issue was at 14 and the whole procedure could last several months.

In Greece, an ID card is a citizen's most important state document. For instance, it is required to perform banking transactions if the teller personnel is unfamiliar with the apparent account holder, to interact with the Citizen Service Bureaus (KEP),[43] receive parcels or registered mail etc. Citizens are also required to produce their ID card at the request of law enforcement personnel.

All the above functions can be fulfilled also with a valid Greek passport (e.g., for people who have lost their ID card and have not yet applied for a new one, people who happen to carry their passport instead of their ID card or Greeks who reside abroad and do not have an identity card, which can be issued only in Greece in contrast to passports also issued by consular authorities abroad).

Front of a Hungarian national ID card
Back of a Hungarian national ID card

Currently, there are three types of valid ID documents (Személyazonosító igazolvány, née Személyi igazolvány, abbr. Sz.ig.) in Hungary: the oldest valid ones are hard-covered, multi-page booklets and issued before 1989 by the People's Republic of Hungary, the second type is a soft-cover, multi-page booklet issued after the change of regime; these two have one, original photo of the owner embedded, with original signatures of the owner and the local police's representative. The third type is a plastic card with the photo and the signature of the holder digitally reproduced. These are generally called Personal Identity Card.

The plastic card shows the owners full name, maiden name if applicable, birth date and place, mother's maiden name, the cardholder's gender, the ID's validity period and the local state authority which issued the card. The card has a 6 digit number + 2 letter unique ID and a separate machine readable zone on the back for identity document scanning devices. It does not have any information about the owner's residential address, nor their personal identity number – this sensitive information is contained on a separate card, called a Residency Card (Lakcímkártya). Personal identity numbers have been issued since 1975; they have the following format in numbers: gender (1 number) – birth date (6 numbers) – unique ID (4 numbers). They are no longer used as a personal identification number, but as a statistical signature.

Other valid documents are the passport (blue colored or red colored with RFID chip) and the driver's license; an individual is required to have at least one of them on hand all the time. The Personal Identity Card is mandatory to vote in state elections or open a bank account in the country.

ID cards are issued to permanent residents of Hungary; if a foreign citizen, the card has a different color.


Ireland does not issue mandatory national identity cards as such. Except for a brief period during the second world war when the Irish Department of External Affairs issued ID Cards to those wishing to travel to the UK,[44] Ireland has never issued national identity cards as such.

Identity documentation is optional for Irish and British citizens.

"Non-nationals" (no connection to an EEA country or Switzerland) aged 16 years and over must produce identification on demand to any immigration officer or a member of the Garda Síochána (police).[45]

Passport booklets, passport cards, driver's licenses, GNIB Registration Certificates[46] and other forms of identity cards can be used for identification. Ireland has issued optional passport cards since October 2015.[47] The cards are the size of a credit card and have all the information from the biographical page of an Irish passport booklet and can be explicitly used for travel in the EEA.

Ireland also since 2012 issues cards called "Public Services Card" which are useful when identification is needed for contacts regarding welfare and public services. They have photos but not birth dates and are therefore not accepted by banks.


All Italian citizens are entitled to request an identity card which would be issued by the municipality in which they live. The card lasts ten years and is a valid document to leave the country when travelling to another EU country.[48] It is not compulsory to carry the card itself, as the authorities only have the right to ask for the identity of a person, not for a specific document. However, if public-security officers are not convinced of the claimed identity, such as may be the case for a verbally provided identity claim, they may keep the claimant in custody until his/her identity is ascertained;[49] such an arrest is limited to the time necessary for identification and has no legal consequence.

Italian classic ID card, front page

A classic Italian identity card (now in the process of being replaced by a newer template) has four pages, containing:

  1. Issuing municipality, card number and owner's name and surname;
  2. Owner's name, surname, birth date and place, citizenship, city of residence, address, civil status (optional) and profession; in addition, physical features such as height, hair and eye color, and any other particular feature not visible from the photo (e.g., having a twin or being an amputee) can be noted;
  3. Photo and signature of the owner, date of issue and stamp of the issuing municipality.
  4. Expiration date and card number.

A field for fingerprints has been present for a long time at the bottom of the third page, but is rarely if ever used. Also, physical features are normally not measured rigorously, but are just verbally asked to the applicant (such as height) or quickly ascertained by administrative personnel on the spot, with no checks for hair dying or cosmetic lenses.

The classic Italian ID card is made of paper, not plastic, and its lamination with plastic pouches is explicitly forbidden, because it would interfere with the anti-forging heat sensitive pattern on the back of the card (see reference).[50] Lamination of ID cards was popular and widely practised until the current prohibition was introduced, because of the low quality of the employed paper, which tends to break apart after a few months in a wallet. Removable pouches are often employed to limit damage, but the odd size of the card (about 1 cm larger than a plastic credit card in both directions) makes it difficult to store it easily in a wallet. Furthermore, the usage of paper makes the card easy to forge, and foreign countries outside the EU sometimes refuse to accept it as a valid document. These common criticism were considered in the development of the Italian electronic identity card, which is in the more common credit-card format.

All foreigners in Italy are required by law to have an ID with them at all times.[51] Citizens of EU member countries must be always ready to display an identity document that is legally government-issued in their country. Non-EU residents must have their passport with customs entrance stamp or a residence permit issued by Italian authorities; while all the resident/immigrant aliens must have a residence permit (otherwise they are illegal and face deportation), foreigners from certain non-EU countries staying in Italy for a limited amount of time (typically for tourism) may be only required to have their passport with proper customs stamp. Additionally permanently resident foreigners can ask to be issued an Italian ID card by the local authorities of their city/town of residence.


Dutch citizens from the age of 14 are required to be able to show a valid identity document upon request by a police officer or similar official. Furthermore, identity documents are required when opening bank accounts and upon start of work for a new employer. Official identity documents for residents in the Netherlands are:

For the purpose of identification in public (but not for other purposes), also a Dutch driving license often may serve as an identity document. In the Caribbean Netherlands, Dutch and other EEA identity cards are not valid; and the Identity card BES is an obligatory document for all residents.

Polish national ID card

Polish national ID card

Every Polish citizen 18 years of age or older residing permanently in Poland must have an Identity Card (Dowód osobisty) issued by the local Office of Civic Affairs. Polish citizens living permanently abroad are entitled, but not required, to have one.


All Portuguese citizens are required by law to obtain an Identity Card as they turn 6 years of age. They are not required to carry with them always but are obligated to present them to the lawful authorities if requested.

The old format of the cards (yellow laminated paper document) featured a portrait of the bearer, their fingerprint, and the name of parents, among other information.

Front of a Portuguese national ID card

They are currently being replaced by grey plastic cards with a chip, called Cartão de Cidadão (Citizen's Card), which now incorporate NIF (Tax Number), Cartão de Utente (Health Card) and Social Security, all of which are protected by a PIN obtained when the card is issued.

The new Citizen's Card is technologically more advanced than the former Identity Card and has the following characteristics:

Specimen of a Romanian identity card issued since 2009.

Every citizen of Romania must register for an ID card (Carte de identitate, abbreviated CI) at the age of 14. The CI offers proof of the identity, address, sex and other data of the possessor. It has to be renewed every 10 years. It can be used instead of a passport for travel inside the European Union and several other countries outside the EU.

Another ID Card is the Provisional ID Card (Cartea de Identitate Provizorie) issued temporarily when an individual cannot get a normal ID Card. Its validity extends for up to 1 year.

Other forms of officially accepted identification include the driver's license and the birth certificate. However, these are accepted only in limited circumstances and cannot take the place of the ID Card in most cases. The ID Card is mandatory for dealing with government institutions, banks or currency exchange shops. A valid passport may also be accepted, but usually only for foreigners.

In addition, citizens can be expected to provide the personal identification number (CNP) in many circumstances; purposes range from simple unique identification and internal book-keeping (for example when drawing up the papers for the warranty of purchased goods) to being asked for identification by the police. The CNP is 13 characters long, with the format S-YY-MM-DD-RR-XXX-Y. Where S is the sex, YY is year of birth, MM is month of birth, DD is day of birth, RR is a regional id, XXX is a unique random number and Y is a control digit.

Presenting the ID Card is preferred but not mandatory when asked by police officers; however, in such cases people are expected to provide a CNP or alternate means of identification which can be checked on the spot (via radio if needed).

The information on the ID Card is required to be kept updated by the owner; current address of domicile in particular. Doing otherwise can expose the citizen to certain fines or be denied service by those institutions that require a valid, up to date Card. In spite of this, it is common for people to let the information lapse or go around with expired ID Cards.

Slovak ID card (front)

Slovak ID card (front)

The Slovak ID card (Slovak: Občiansky preukaz) is a picture ID in Slovakia. It is issued to citizens of the Slovak Republic who are 15 or older. A Slovak ID card is officially recognised by all member states of the European Economic Area and Switzerland for travel. For travel outside the EU, Slovak citizens may also require a passport, which is a legally accepted form of picture ID as well. Police officers and some other officials have a right to demand to see one of those documents, and the law states that one is obliged to submit such a document at that very moment. If one fails to comply, law enforcement officers are allowed to insist on personal identification at the police station.


Every Slovenian citizen regardless of age has the right to acquire an Identity Card (Slovene: Osebna izkaznica) where every citizen of the Republic of Slovenia of 18 years of age or older is obliged by law to acquire one and carry it at all times (or any other Identity document with a picture i.e., Slovene Passport). The Card is a valid Identity Document within all members states of the European Union for travel within the EU. With exception of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, though it may be used to travel outside of the EU: Norway, Liechtenstein, BiH, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland. The front side displays the name and surname, sex, nationality, date of birth and expiration date of the card, as well as the number of the ID card a black and white photograph and a signature. On the back, permanent address, administrative unit, date of issue, EMŠO, and a code with key information in a machine-readable zone. Depending on the holders age (and sometimes also other factors), the card had a validity of 5 years or 10 years, and 1 year for foreigners living in Slovenia.

In Slovenia the ID cards importance is equaled only by the Slovenian passport, but a due to size a lot more practical.

Previous model of the Spanish national ID card (front)

Previous model of the Spanish national ID card (front)

In Spain citizens, resident foreigners and companies have similar but distinct identity numbers, some with prefix letters, all with a check-code[52]

Spanish citizens under 14 may, but over 14 must, acquire a National Identity Card (DNI). It is issued by the National Police formerly ID-1 (bank-card) format paper encapsulated in plastic. Since 2006 a new version of the 'DNI' has been introduced. The new 'Electronic DNI' is a Smart card that allows for digital signing of documents. The chip contains most of the personal information printed on the card and a digitized version of the bearer's face, signature and fingerprints.[53]
On the front there is a photograph, the name and two surnames (see Spanish naming customs), the bearer's signature, an id number, the issue date and the expiry date. On the reverse appears the date and place of birth, the gender, both parents' names (if known) and the current address. At the bottom there is key information in a machine-readable zone. Depending on holder's age, the card has a validity of 5 years, 10 years or indefinite (for the elderly).[54]

Despite the NIF/CIF/NIE/NIF distinctions the identity number is unique and always has eight digits followed by a letter calculated from a 23-Modular arithmetic check used to verify the correctness of the number. The letters I, Ñ, O and U are not used and the sequence is as follows:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

This number is the same for tax, social security and all legal purposes. Without this number (or a foreign equivalent such as a passport number) a contract may not be enforceable.

In Spain the formal identity number on an ID card is the most important piece of identification. It is used in all public and private transactions. It is required to open a bank account, to sign a contract, to have state insurance and to register at a university and should be shown when being fined by a police officer.[56] It is one of the official documents required to vote at any election, although any other form of official ID such as a driving licence or passport may be used. The card also constitutes a valid travel document within the European Union.[57]

Non-resident citizens of countries such as the United Kingdom, where passport numbers are not fixed for the holder's life but change with renewal, may experience difficulty with legal transactions after the document is renewed since the old number is no longer verifiable on a valid (foreign) passport. However a NIE is issued for life and does not change and can be used for the same purposes.


Sweden does not have a legal statute for compulsory identity documents. However ID-cards are regularly used to ascertain a person's identity when completing certain transactions. These include but are not limited to banking and age verification. Also interactions with public authorities often require it, in spite of the fact that there is no law explicitly requiring it, because there are laws requiring authorities to somehow verify people's identity. Without Swedish identity documents difficulties can occur accessing health care services, receiving prescription medications and getting salaries or grants. From 2008, EU passports have been accepted for these services due to EU legislation (with exceptions including banking), but non-EU passports are not accepted. Identity cards have therefore become an important part of everyday life.

There are currently three public authorities that issue ID-cards. The tax office (Skatteverket), the Police and the transport board.

The tax office cards can only be used within Sweden to validate a persons identity, but they can be obtained both by Swedish citizens and those that currently reside in Sweden. A Swedish personal identity number is required. It is possible to get one without having any Swedish id-card. In this case a person holding such a card must guarantee the identity, and the person must be a verifiable relative or the boss at the company the person has been working or a few other verifiable people.

The Police can only issue identity documents to Swedish citizens. They issue an internationally recognised id-card according to EU standard usable for intra-European travel, and Swedish passports which are acceptable as identity documents worldwide.[58]

The Transport board issues driving licences which are valid as identity documents in Sweden. To obtain one, one must be approved as a driver and strictly have another Swedish identity document as proof of identity.

In the past there have been certain groups that have experienced problems obtaining valid identification documents. This was due to the initial process that was required to validate one's identity, unregulated security requirements by the commercial companies which issued them. Since July 2009, the tax office has begun to issue identity cards and this has simplified the identity validation process for foreign passport holders. Still there are requirements for the identity validation that can cause trouble especially for foreign citizens but the list of people who can validate one's identity has been extended.

United Kingdom

The UK had an identity card during World War II as part of a package of emergency powers invoked and was abolished in 1952 by repealing National Registration Act 1939. Identity cards were first proposed in the mid-1980s for people attending football matches, following a series of high-profile hooliganism incidents involving English football fans. However, this proposed identity card scheme never went ahead as Lord Taylor of Gosforth ruled it out as "unworkable" in the Taylor Report of 1990.

By 2006 several groups such as No2ID had formed to campaign against ID cards in Britain. The UK Labour government progressively introduced compulsory identity cards for non-EU residents in Britain starting late 2008. After the 2010 general election a new government was formed, comprising a coalition between two parties that had pledged to scrap ID cards - the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - and the Home Office announced that the national identity register had been destroyed on 10 February 2011.[59]

Identity cards for British nationals were introduced in 2009 on a voluntary basis. Only workers in certain high-security professions, such as airport workers, were required to have an identity card, and this general lack of ID being compulsory tends to remain the case today.

Driving licences, particularly the photocard driving licence introduced in 1998, and passports are now the most widely used ID documents in the United Kingdom, but the former cannot be used as travel documents, except within the Common Travel Area when not travelling on Ryanair. However, driving licences from the UK and other EU countries are usually accepted within other EEA countries for identity verification. Given that passports do not fit in a typical wallet or purse, most people do not carry their passports in public without an advance knowledge that they are going to need them. For people from the UK and other countries where national ID cards are not used or not common, this leaves driving licences as the only valid form of ID to be presented, if requested by an authority for a legitimately-given reason, but unlike a travel document, they do not show the holder's nationality or immigration status. Colloquially, in day-to-day life, most authorities do not ask for identification from individuals in a sudden, spot check type manner, such as by police or security guards, although this may become a concern in instances of stop and search.

There are also various PASS-accredited cards, used mainly for proof-of-age purposes, but they are not very commonly carried other than by those aged in their late teens or early twenties who do not drive and frequently purchase age-restricted goods.

Non-European Union


From January 12, 2009 the Government of Albania is issuing a compulsory electronic and biometric ID Card (Letërnjoftim) for its citizens.[60] Every citizen at age 16 must apply for Biometric ID card.

Main article: Belarusian passport

Belarus has combined the international passport and the internal passport into one document which is compulsory from age 14. It follows the international passport convention but has extra pages for domestic use.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina allows every person over the age of 15 to apply for an ID card, and all citizens over the age of 18 must have the national ID card with them at all times. A penalty is issued if the citizen does not have the acquired ID card on them or if the citizen refuses to show proof of identification.


The Icelandic state-issued identity cards are called "Nafnskírteini". Most people use driver's licences instead. Identity documents are not mandatory to carry by law (unless driving a car), but can be needed for bank services, age verification and other situations.


The Macedonian identity card (Macedonian: Лична карта, Lična karta) is a compulsory identity document issued in the Republic of Macedonia. The document is issued by the police on behalf of the Ministry of Interior. Every person over 18 can get and must get an identity card.


In Moldova Identity Cards (Romanian: Buletin de identitate) are being issued since 1996. The first person to get identity card was former president of Moldova - Mircea Snegur. Since then all the Moldovan citizens are required to have and use it inside the country. It can't be used to travel outside the country, however it is possible to pass so-called Transnistrian border with it.

The Moldovan Identity card may be obtained by a child from his/her date of birth. State company "Registru" is responsible for issuing Identity cards and for storing data of all Moldovan citizens.


Monégasque identity cards are issued to Monégasque citizens and can be used for travel within the Schengen Area.


In Montenegro every resident citizen over the age of 14 can have their Lična karta issued, and all persons over the age of 18 must have ID cards and carry them at all times when they are in public places. It can be used for international travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania instead of the passport.


In Norway there is no law penalising non possession of an identity document. But there are rules requiring it for services like banking, air travel and voting (where personal recognition or other identification methods have not been possible).

The following documents are generally considered valid (varying a little, since no law lists them):[61] Nordic driving licence, passport (often only from EU and EFTA), national id card from EU, Norwegian ID card from banks and some more. There is no ID card for anyone except bank ID card (normally printed on the reverse of a credit card). To get a bank ID card either a Nordic passport or another passport together with Norwegian residence and work permit is needed.

There is an ongoing plan to introduce a national ID card accrediting Norwegian citizenship, usable for travel within the EU, and for general identification. The plan started in 2007 and has been delayed several times and is now scheduled for 2016. Banks are campaigning to be freed from the task of issuing ID cards, stating that it should be the responsibility of state authorities.[62] Some banks have already ceased issuing ID cards, so people need to bring their passport for such things as credit card purchases or buying prescribed medication if not in possession of a driving licence.[63][64]

Domestic Passport: front
Domestic Passport: Data and Signature page

The role of identity documentation is primarily played by the so-called Russian internal passport, a passport-size booklet which contains a person's photograph, birth information and other data such as registration at the place of residence (informally known as propiska), marital data, information about military service and underage children. Internal passports are issued by the Federal Migration Service to all citizens who reach their 14th birthday and do not reside outside Russia. They are re-issued at the age 20 and 45.

The internal passport is commonly considered the only acceptable ID document in governmental offices, banks, while traveling by train or plane, getting a subscription service, etc. If the person does not have an internal passport (i.e., foreign nationals or Russian citizens who live abroad), an international passport can be accepted instead, theoretically in all cases. Another exception is army conscripts, who produce the Identity Card of the Russian Armed Forces.

Internal passports can also be used to travel to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Other documents, such as driver's licenses or student cards, can sometimes be accepted as ID, subject to regulations.

Main article: Serbian identity card

In Serbia every resident citizen over the age of 10 can have their Lična karta issued, and all persons over the age of 16 must have ID cards and carry them at all times when they are in public places.[65] It can be used for international travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia instead of the passport.[66] Contact microchip on ID is optional.

Kosovo issues its own identity cards. These documents are accepted by Serbia when used as identification while crossing the Serbia-Kosovo border.[67] They can also be used for international travel to Montenegro[68] and Albania.[69]


Swiss citizens have no obligation of identification in Switzerland and thus, are not required by law to be able to show a valid identity document upon request by a police officer or similar official. Furthermore, identity documents are required when opening a bank account or when dealing with public administration.

Relevant in daily life of Swiss citizens are Swiss ID card[70] and Swiss driver's license;[71] latter needs to presented upon request by a police officer, when driving a motor-vehicle as e.g. a car, a motorcycle, a bus or a truck. Swiss passport[72] is needed only for e.g. travel abroad to countries not accepting Swiss ID card as travel document.

Main article: Turkish identity card

The Turkish national ID card (Turkish: Nüfus Cüzdanı) is compulsory for all Turkish citizens from birth. Cards for males and females have a different colour. The front shows the first and last name of the holder, first names of both parents, birth date and place, and an 11 digit ID number. The back shows marital status, religious affiliation, the region of the country of origin, and the date of issue of the card. On February 2, 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled in a 6 to 1 vote that the religious affiliation section of the Turkish identity card violated articles 6, 9, and 12 of the European Convention of Human Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory. The ruling should coerce the Turkish government to completely omit religious affiliation on future identity cards. The Turkish police are allowed to ask any person to show ID, and refusing to comply may lead to arrest. It can be used for international travel to Northern Cyprus instead of a passport.

Ministry of Interior of Turkey is still working for release an EU-like identity cards for all Turkish citizens. New identity cards will be biometric as well as passport, and can be used as bank card, bus ticket or at international trips.

North America


In Canada, different forms of identification documentation are used, but there is no de jure national identity card. The Canadian passport is issued by the federal (national) government, and the provinces and territories issue various documents which can be used for identification purposes. The most commonly used forms of identification within Canada are the health card and driver's licence issued by provincial and territorial governments. The widespread usage of these two documents for identification purposes has made them de facto identity cards.

In Canada, a driver's licence usually lists the name, home address, height and date of birth of the bearer. A photograph of the bearer is usually present, as well as additional information, such as restrictions to the bearer's driving licence. The bearer is required by law to keep the address up to date.

A few provinces, such as Québec and Ontario, issue provincial health care cards which contain identification information, such as a photo of the bearer, their home address, and their date of birth. British Columbia and Ontario are among the provinces that produce photo identification cards for individuals who do not possess a driving licence, with the cards containing the bearer's photo, home address, and date of birth.

For travel abroad, a passport is almost always required. There are a few minor exceptions to this rule, with these exceptions mainly applying to international travel within North America, such as the NEXUS programme and the Enhanced Drivers License programme implemented by a few provincial governments as a pilot project. These programmes have not yet gained widespread acceptance, and the Canadian passport remains the most useful and widely accepted international travel document.

Costa Rica

Every Costa Rican citizen must carry an identity card immediately after turning 18. The card is named Cédula de Identidad and it is issued by the local registrar's office (Registro Civil), an office belonging to the local elections committee (Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones), which in Costa Rica has the same rank as the Supreme Court. Each card has a unique number composed of nine numerical digits, the first of them being the province where the citizen was born (with other significance in special cases such as granted citizenship to foreigners, adopted persons or in rare cases with old people where no birth certificate was processed at birth); after this digit, two blocks of four digits follow; the combination corresponds to the unique identifier of the citizen.

It is widely requested as part of every legal and financial purpose, often requested at payment with credit or debit cards for identification guarantee and requested for buying alcoholic beverages or cigarettes or upon entrance to adults-only places like bars.

The card must be renewed every ten years and is freely issued again if lost. Among the information included there are, on the front, two identification pictures and digitized signature of the owner, identification number (known colloquially just as the cédula), first name, first and second-last names and an optional known as field. On the back, there is again the identification number, birth date, where the citizen issues its vote for national elections or referendums, birthplace, gender, date when it must be renewed and a matrix code that includes all this information and even a digitized fingerprint of the thumb and index finger.

The matrix code is not currently being used nor inspected by any kind of scanner.

Besides this identification card, every vehicle driver must carry a driving licence, an additional card that uses the same identification number as the ID card (Cédula de Identidad) for the driving license number. A passport is also issued with the same identification number used in the ID card. The same situation occurs with the Social Security number; it is the same number used for the ID card.

All non-Costa Rican citizens with a resident status must carry an ID card (Cédula de Residencia), otherwise, a passport and a valid visa. Each resident's ID card has a unique number composed of 12 digits; the first three of them indicate their nationality and the rest of them a sequence used by the immigration authority (called Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería). As with the Costa Rican citizens, their Social Security number and their driver's license (if they have it) would use the same number as in their own resident's ID card.

Dominican Republic

A "Cédula de Identidad y Electoral" (Identity and Voting Document) is a National ID that is also used for voting in both Presidential and Congressional ballots. Each "Cédula de Identidad y Electoral" has its unique serial number composed by the serial of the municipality of current residence, a sequential number plus a verification digit. This National ID card is issued to all legal residents of adult age. It is usually required to validate job applications, legally binding contracts, official documents, buying/selling real estate, opening a personal bank account, obtaining a Driver's License and the like. It is issued free of charge[73] by the "Junta Central Electoral" (Central Voting Committee) to all Dominicans not living abroad at the time of reaching adulthood (16 years of age) or younger is they are legally emancipated. Foreigners that have taken permanent residence and have not yet applied for Dominican naturalization (i.e., have not opted for Dominican citizenship but have taken permanent residence) are required to pay an issuing tariff and must bring along their non-expired Country of Origin passport, deposit photocopies of their Residential Card and Dominican Red Cross Blood Type card. Foreigners residing on a permanent basis must renew their "Foreign ID" on a 2, 4 or 10-year renewal basis (about US$63 - US$240, depending on desired renewal period).[74]

El Salvador

In El Salvador, ID Card is called Documento Único de Identidad (DUI) (Unique Identity Document). Every citizen above 18 years must carry this ID for identification purposes at any time. It is not based on a smartcard but on a standard plastic card with two-dimensional bar-coded information with picture and signature.


In January 2009, the National Registry of Persons (RENAP) in Guatemala began offering a new identity document in place of the Cédula de Vecindad (neighborhood identity document) to all Guatemala citizens and foreigners. The new document is called "Documento Personal de Identification" (DPI) (Personal Identity Document). It is based on a smartcard with a chip and includes an electronic signature and several measures against fraud.


Cedula Nicaraguense.


Not mandatory, but needed in almost all official documents, the CURP is the standardized version of an identity document. It actually could be a printed green wallet-sized card or simply an 18-character identification key printed on a birth or death certificate.[75]

Unlike most other countries, Mexico has assigned a CURP to nearly all minors, since both the government and most private schools ask parents to supply their children's CURP to keep a data base of all the children. Also, minors must produce their CURP when applying for a passport or being registered at Public Health services by their parents.

Most adults need the CURP code too, since it is required for almost all governmental paperwork like tax filings and passport applications. Most companies ask for a prospective employee's CURP, voting card, or passport rather than birth certificates.

To have a CURP issued for a person, a birth certificate or similar proof must be presented to the issuing authorities to prove that the information supplied on the application is true. Foreigners applying for a CURP must produce a certificate of legal residence in Mexico. Foreign-born Mexican naturalized citizens must present their naturalization certificate. On 21 August 2008 the Mexican cabinet passed the National Security Act, which compels all Mexican citizens to have a biometric identity card, called Citizen Identity Card (Cédula de identidad ciudadana) before 2011.

On February 13, 2009 the Mexican government designated the state of Tamaulipas to start procedures for issuing a pilot program of the national Mexican ID card.

Although the CURP is the de jure official identification document in Mexico, the Instituto Nacional Electoral's voting card is the de facto official identification and proof of legal age for citizens of ages 18 and older.

On July 28, 2009 Mexican President Felipe Calderón, facing the Mexican House of Representatives, announced the launch of the Mexican national Identity card project, which will see the first card issued before the end of 2009.

United States

United States of America Passport Card (Front)
United States of America Passport Card (Back)

There is no federal-level ID card issued to all US citizens.

For most people, driver's licenses issued by the respective state and territorial governments have become the de facto identity cards, and are used for many identification purposes, such as when purchasing alcohol and tobacco, opening bank accounts, and boarding planes, along with confirming a voter's identity in states with voter photo identification initiatives. Individuals who do not drive are able to obtain an identification card with the same functionality from the same state agency that issues driver's licenses. In addition, many schools issue student and teacher ID cards.[76]

The United States passed a bill entitled the REAL ID Act on May 11, 2005. The bill compels states to begin redesigning their driver's licenses to comply with federal security standards by December 2009. Federal agencies would reject licenses or identity cards that do not comply, which would force Americans accessing everything from airplanes to national parks and courthouses to have the federally mandated cards. At airports, those not having compliant licenses or cards would simply be redirected to a secondary screening location. The REAL ID Act is highly controversial, and with 25 states have approved either resolutions or binding legislation not to participate in the program, and with President Obama's selection of Janet Napolitano (a prominent critic of the program) to head the Department of Homeland Security, the future of the law remains uncertain,[77] and bills have been introduced into Congress to amend or repeal it.[78] The most recent of these, dubbed PASS ID, would eliminate many of the more burdensome technological requirements but still require states to meet federal standards in order to have their ID cards accepted by federal agencies.

The bill takes place as governments are growing more interested in implanting technology in ID cards to make them smarter and more secure. In 2006, the U.S. State Department studied issuing passports with Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, chips embedded in them. Virginia may become the first state to glue RFID tags into all its driver's licenses. Seventeen states, however, have passed statutes opposing or refusing to implement the Real ID Act.[79]

The US passport verifies both personal identity and citizenship, but is not mandatory for citizens to possess within the country and is issued by the US State Department on a discretionary basis.

Since February 1, 2008, U.S. citizens may apply for passport cards, in addition to the usual passport books. Although their main purpose is for land and sea travel within North America, the passport card may also be accepted by federal authorities (such as for domestic air travel or entering federal buildings), which may make it an attractive option for people residing where state driver's licenses and I.D. cards are not REAL ID-compliant, should those requirements go into effect. TSA regulations list the passport card as an acceptable identity document at airport security checkpoints.[80]

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has indicated that the U.S. Passport Card may be used in the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (form) process.[81] The passport card is considered a “List A” document that may be presented by newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process to show work authorized status. “List A” documents are those used by employees to prove both identity and work authorization when completing the Form I-9.

The passport card can be used as a valid proof of citizenship and proof of identity both inside and outside the United States.[82]

The basic document needed to establish a person's identity and citizenship in order to obtain a passport is a birth certificate. These are issued by either the US state of birth or by the US Department of State for overseas births to US citizens. A child born in the US is in nearly all cases (except for children of foreign diplomats) automatically a US citizen. A child born overseas to US citizens must have the birth registered with the corresponding US embassy/consulate to obtain citizenship at birth, or they will need to apply for recognition of their citizenship at a later date.

Social Security numbers and cards are issued by the US Social Security Administration for tracking of Social Security taxes and benefits. They have become the de facto national identification number for federal and state taxation, private financial services, and identification with various companies. SSNs do not establish citizenship because they can also be issued to permanent residents as well as citizens. They typically can only be part of the establishment of a person's identity; a photo ID that verifies date of birth is also usually requested.

A mix of various documents can be presented to, for instance, verify one's legal eligibility to take a job. Identity and citizenship is established by presenting a passport alone, but this must be accompanied by a Social Security card for taxation ID purposes. A driver's license/state ID establishes identity alone, but does not establish citizenship, as these can be provided to non-citizens as well. In this case, the applicant may sign an affidavit of citizenship or be required to present a birth certificate. They must still also submit their Social Security number.

The Selective Service System has in the past, in times of a military draft, issued something close to an National ID Card, only for men that were eligible for the draft.



Australia does not have an identity card. There have been two proposals to introduce ID cards for tax and social security access in Australia: The Australia Card in 1985 by the Hawke Labor Government and the Health and Social Services Access Card in 2006 by the Howard Liberal Government. Although neither card would have been an official compulsory ID card, they were both criticised as leading to de facto ID cards. Ultimately, both proposals failed.

Instead, various identity documents are used or required to prove a person's identity, whether for government or commercial purposes.

Currently, driver licences are issued by the states and territories and are the most widely used personal identification document. Driver licences list a person's full name, date of birth, current address and contains a photograph. It can commonly be used for personal identification for various purposes such as obtaining various government permits and documentation (for example, passport or tax file number) as well as for opening bank accounts or applying for credit cards.

It is the de facto identity card in Australia.

For people who do not drive, the road authorities will issue a "Photo Card", also called "Proof of Age Card". In some states, like New South Wales, Photo Card can be only issued to people who do not have a driver licence, but in some states, like Queensland, it can be issued to people who have a driver licence as another type of identity.

Identification indicating age is commonly required to purchase alcohol and tobacco and to enter nightclubs and gambling venues. For those persons over 18 who do not have a driver licence or passport, State governments provide 18+ Cards as proof of age. It is also available to people who do not wish to use a driver licence.[83]

Other important identity documents include a passport, an official birth certificate, an official marriage certificate, cards issued by government agencies (typically social security cards), some cards issued by commercial organisations (e.g., a debit or credit card), and utility accounts. Often, some combination of identity documents is required, such as an identity document linking a name, photograph and signature (typically photo-ID in the form of a driver licence or passport), evidence of operating in the community, and evidence of a current residential address.

New Zealand

Legal forms of identification are used mainly for buying alcohol and cigarettes where the purchaser looks younger than 25 and entry to nightclubs. They can also be required for the purchase of spray paint and glues, and for some bank transactions. Forms of legal identification are New Zealand and overseas passports, New Zealand Driving Licences and 18+ cards from the Hospitality Association of New Zealand. Overseas driver's licenses may not be sufficient for the purchase of alcohol and tobacco. Firearms licences are a form of photo identification issued by the New Zealand Police.

South America

Current front side of Argentine DNI Card


Documento Nacional de Identidad or DNI(which means National Identity Document) is the main identity document for Argentine citizens. It is issued at a person's birth, and updated at 8 and 14 years of age simultaneously in one format: a card (DNI tarjeta); it is valid if identification is required, and is required for voting. They are produced at a special plant by the Argentine national registry of people (ReNaPer).[84]


In Brazil, at the age of 18, all Brazilian citizens are supposed to be issued a cédula de identidade (ID card), usually known by its number, the Registro Geral (RG), Portuguese for "General Registry". The cards are needed to obtain a job, to vote, and to use credit cards. Foreigners living in Brazil have a different kind of ID card. Since the RG is not unique, being issued in a state-basis, in many places the CPF (the Brazilian revenue agency's identification number) is used as a replacement. The current Brazilian driver's license contains both the RG and the CPF, and as such can be used as an identification card as well.

There are plans in course to replace the current RG system with a new Registro de Identidade Civil (Civilian Identity Registry), which will be national in scope, and to change the current ID card with a new smartcard.


Colombian Cedula de Ciudadania

Every resident of Colombia over the age of 14 must bear an identity card (Tarjeta de Identidad). Upon turning 18 every resident must obtain a Cédula de Ciudadanía, which is the only document that proves the identity of a person for legal purposes. ID cards must be carried at all times and must be presented to the police or military upon request. If the individual fails to present the ID card upon request by the police or the military, he/she is most likely going to be detained for 24 hours at police station even if he/she is not a suspect of any wrongdoing. ID cards are needed to obtain employment, open bank accounts, obtain a passport, driver's license, military card, to enroll in educational institutions, vote or enter public buildings including airports and courthouses. Failure to produce ID is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine.

ID duplicate costs must be assumed by citizens.


Every resident of Chile over the age of 18 must have and carry at all times their ID Card called Cédula de Identidad issued by the Civil Registry and Identification Service. It contains the full name, gender, nationality, date of birth, photograph of the data subject, right thumb print, ID number, and personal signature.

This is the only official form of identification for residents in Chile and is widely used and accepted as such. It is necessary for every contract, most bank transactions, voting, driving (along with the driver's licence) and other public and private situations.


Peruvian Documento Nacional de Identidad. (ISO ID-1)

In Peru, it is mandatory for all citizens over the age of 18, whether born inside or outside the territory of the Republic, to obtain a National Identity Document (Documento Nacional de Identidad). The DNI is a public, personal and untransferable document.

The DNI is the only means of identification permitted for participating in any civil, legal, commercial, administrative, and judicial acts. It is also required for voting and must be presented to authorities upon request. The DNI can be used as a passport to travel to all South American countries that are members of UNASUR.

The DNI is issued by the National Registry of Identification and Civil Status (RENIEC). For Peruvians abroad, service is provided through the Consulates of Peru, in accordance with Articles 26, 31 and 8 of Law No. 26,497.

The document is card-sized as defined by ISO format ID-1 (prior to 2005 the DNI was size ISO ID-2; renewal of the card due to the size change was not mandatory, nor did previously-emitted cards lose validity). The front of the card presents photographs of the holder's face, their name, date and place of birth (the latter in coded form), gender and marital status; the bottom quarter consists of machine-readable text. Three dates are listed as well; the date the citizen was first registered at RENIEC; the date the document was issued; and the expiration date of the document. The back of the DNI features the holder's address (including district, department and/or province) and voting group. Eight voting record blocks are successively covered with metallic labels when the citizen presents themselves at their voting group on voting days. The back also denotes whether the holder is an organ donor, presents the holder's right index finger print, a PDF417 bar code, and a 1D bar code.


Uruguayan Cédula de Identidad.

Identity Card (Renewal)[85]

In Uruguay, the identity card is issued by the Ministry of Interior and the National Civil Identification (DNIC). It is mandatory and essential for several steps at either governmental or private. The document is mandatory for all inhabitants of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, are native citizens, legal citizens or resident aliens in the country, even for children from 45 days old.

It is a laminated cardboard 9 cm wide and approximately 5 cm high, dominated by the blue color, showing the flag in the center of the Treinta y Tres Orientales, with the inscription "Liberty or Death." On the back appears the photo of the owner, the number assigned by the DNIC (Including a self-generated or check digit), name / s full / s with name / s and the corresponding signature (or proof of not knowing or not to sign). On the reverse appears nationality, date of birth, date of issuing the document and the date it is due (usually 10 years after the date of issue, even if issued after 70 years of age, lifetime and for the children is valid for five years). There is also the right thumbprint and observations if any.

Identity cards are demanded widespread in all formal transactions, from credit card purchases to any identity validation, proof of age, and so on.

Not to be confused with the civic badge, which is used exclusively for voting in elections (elections and plebiscites).

Check Digit Calculation ' They take the 7 card numbers and multiply each by 2987634 one by one (the first number by 2, the second by 9 and so on, when each result exceeds one digit, the unit takes only).

Example: UT: 1234567-X -> 2987634 -> 2, 8, 4, 8, 0, 8, 8

It is the sum of the results, the example would be 2 +8 +4 +8 +0 +8 +8 = 38 for the first number is greater than 38 that ends in 0 and is subtracted: 40-38 = 2 (is the same as 10 - (38 mod 10)). X = 2 then the check digit for the card 1,234,567.

Another simple way to look at it as a scalar product of vectors in module 10. The first 7 digits of the card can be viewed as a vector of length 7. This vector is multiplied by the vector scalar obtaining a number N 8123476 The check digit is found to be N module 10.

Example: CI: 1234567-X -> X = [(1x8) + (2x1) + (3x2) + (4x3) + (5x4) + (6x7) + (7x6)] mod 10 -> X = [8 +2 +6 +12 +20 +42 +42] mod 10 = 132 mod 10 = 2


Current ID card issued by the Government of Venezuela.

Identity cards in Venezuela consist of a plastic-laminated paper which contains the national ID number (Cédula de Identidad) as well as a color-photo and the last names, given names, date of birth, right thumb print, signature, and marital status (single, married, divorced, widowed) of the bearer. It also contains the documents expedition and expiration date. Two different prefixes can be found before the ID number: "V" for Venezuelans and "E" for foreigners (Extranjeros in Spanish). This distinction is also shown in the document at the very bottom by a bold all-caps typeface displaying either the word VENEZOLANO or EXTRANJERO, respectively.

Despite Venezuela being the second country in the Americas (after the United States) to adopt a biometric passport, the current Venezuelan ID document is remarkably low-security, even for regional standards. It can hardly be called a card. The paper inside the laminated cover contains only two security measures, first, it is a special type of government-issued paper, and second, it has microfilaments in the paper that glow in the presence of UV light. The laminated cover itself is very simplistic and quite large for the paper it covers and the photo, although is standard sized (3x3.5 cm) is rather blurred. Government officials in charge of issuing the document openly recommend each individual to cut the excess plastic off and re-laminate the document in order to protect it from bending. The requirements for getting a Venezuelan identity document are quite relaxed and Venezuela lacks high-security in its birth certificates and other documents that give claim to citizenship.

Old Venezuelan Cédula de identidad.

Because one can get a Venezuelan passport and register to vote only by virtue of possessing a Venezuelan identity card and, since the Venezuelan government has been accused by the media and the opposition of naturalizing substantial numbers of foreigners for electoral purposes, many Venezuelans accused the government of a lack of a plan to ramp-up the security of the cédula de identidad along with other Venezuelan vital documents such as birth certificates as part of a strategy by the Chávez regime to continue the practice of naturalizing foreigners for electoral purposes. The government has announced that a new cédula de identidad will be available to all citizens somewhere around the first quarter of 2011. This proposed ID is indeed a polycarbonate bankcard-sized document with biometric and RFID technology. It resembles the analogous card that has been in place in the Venezuelan biometric passports since 2007. However, the release of this new card to the public has been delayed on several occasions and as of March 2012 there are no news as to when it will be available.

See also


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  7. "BEEsafe Personal ID program". Laboratory Collection Services. Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-01-11. The area of the DNA molecule used for identification testing is known as a non-coding region. This region gives absolutely no genetic information about your race, medical history, or pre-disposition to a disease. DNA is the ultimate tool for personal identification. Every individual has a unique set of DNA markers, which are inherited from their parents. Therefore, your loved one can be easily identified by their specific DNA profile. DNA Profiling is highly recommended by Law Enforcement Agencies nationwide as an identification method for all of your family. Acquiring a DNA Profile for your loved one is easy, painless, affordable, and need only be performed once, since his or her profile will not change over time.
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Further reading

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