List of identity card policies by country

List of identity card policies by country

This is a list of identity documents by country.

Identity card policies by country

Countries with compulsory identity cards

According to Privacy International, as of|1996|lc=on, around 100 countries had compulsory identity cards [ Identity cards: Frequently Asked Questions] - Privacy International] . They also stated that "virtually no common law country has a card".

The term "compulsory" may have different meanings and implications in different countries. The compulsory character may apply only after a certain age. Often, a ticket can be given for being found without one's identification document, or in some cases a person may even be detained until the identity is ascertained. In practice, random controls are rare, except in police states.

* Algeria
* Argentina: "Documento Nacional de Identidad" (DNI) (Spanish Wikipedia). Issued at birth. Updated at 8 and 16 years old. Small booklet, dark green cardboard cover. The first page states the name, date and place of birth, along with a picture and right thumb print. It's a hand written form, and the newer models have an adhesive laminate for the first page. Next pages issue address changes, wish to donate organs, military service, and vote log. Half of the pages have the DNI (a unique number), perforated through the first half of the book. Prior to DNI was the "Libreta Civica" ("Civic booklet"), for women, and the "Libreta de Enrolamiento" ("Enrollment Booklet"), for men. A few years ago there was a big scandal with the electronic DNIs that were going to be manufactured by Siemens, and it was decided that no private corporation could control the issuing of national identity. The federal police, also the same authority who can issue Argentinian passports, also issues an identity card called Cédula de Identidad that is valid sometimes instead of the DNI, which many people prefer to carry because after the loss of DNI there is a long process (caused only by bureaucratic reasons) in which the person is limited in some situations which require the DNI. Random controls cannot be made without a judge's order, except in situations such as military border checkpoints.
* Belarus: Passport ( _be. Пашпарт). Compulsory at 18. Reissued at 25, 45 and 100. Can be used to travel to other countries. Could be issued before 18 for travelling purposes.
* Belgium: See [ State Registry] (in Dutch, French and German). The card is first issued at age 12, compulsory by 15. Since the beginning of 2005 the eID (electronic IDentity-card) has been issued to Belgian citizens who apply for a new identity card. Apart from being a form of identification, the card also is used for authentication purposes. Future usages include using the eID as a library card, keycard for restricted areas or chatrooms and the digital signing of documents. It is expected that in 2009 all Belgians will have an eID card. []
* Bosnia and Herzegovina: "Lična karta / Osobna iskaznica / Лична Карта", compulsory at 18.
* Brazil: "Cédula de identidade". Compulsory to be issued and carried since the age of 18 (though it can be substituted by a series of equivalent documents, see below). It is usually issued, for civilians, by each state's Public Safety Secretary, but other state departments -- including the Armed Forces, the Police and some professional councils -- can issue alternate identity cards too. There is a national standard, but each state can include minor differences (usually numbering scheme, font, printed seal and background pattern. The front has a picture (with an electronic stamp on it), right thumb print and signature (for illiterate people the phrase "não assina" -- cannot sign -- is printed in its place). The verse has the unique number (RG, "registro geral"), expedition date, full name of the person, name of the parents, place (town, state) and date of birth, CPF number and other optional information. It is green and plastified, officially 102 × 68 mm [] , but lamination tends to make it slightly larger than the ISO 7810 ID-2 standard of 105 × 74 mm, resulting in a tight fit in most wallets. Only recently the driver's licence received the same legal status of an identity card in Brazil. There are also a few other documents, such as cards issued by the national councils of some professions (doctors, accountants, dentists, engineers, lawyers etc), which are considered equivalent to the national identity card for most purposes.
* Bulgaria: "лична карта" in Cyrillic alphabet (or "lichna karta" in Latin transliteration) is first issued and is compulsory after turning the age of 14. The new Bulgarian ID cards were introduced in 2000. They follow the general pattern in the EU and replaced the old, Soviet-style "internal passports", also known as "green passports". It is worth mentioning that during the socialism period (1945-1989), to receive an "international passport", especially one allowing to travel to a Western country, was considered an achievement. Not all Bulgarian citizens had the right to travel abroad, and those who travelled outside the Soviet bloc underwent strict investigation for possible links with political enemies of the regime.
* Chile: "Cédula de identidad". First issued at age 2 or 3, it is compulsory at 18.
* People's Republic of China: First issued at school age, the "Jumin Shenfenzheng" (居民身份证) becomes compulsory at 16.
* Republic of China (Taiwan): Republic of China National Identification Card("Guomin Shenfenzheng"/國民身份證).
* Colombia: "Tarjeta de identidad". First issued at age 2 or 3, then it's changed at 18 for another identity card called "Cedula de Ciudadania". It is only renewed afterwards if stolen or lost.
* Croatia: The Croatian identity card is compulsory at 16.
* Cuba: "Carné de identidad"
* Cyprus: All Residents aged 12 and up are required to carry an official ID card (
* Czech Republic: Občanský průkaz, compulsory at 15.
* Egypt: Personality Verification Card (بطاقة تحقيق الشخصية) is compulsory to issue at the age of 16. Issued by the Civil Registry Office which is subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. Not carrying the ID card is only penalised by fine not exceeding 200 EGP.
* Estonia: See [] (in Estonian), [] (in English)
* " (German Wikipedia): It is compulsory for all German citizens age 16 or older to possess either a "Personalausweis" (identity card) or a passport, but not to carry it. While police officers and some other officials have a right to demand to see one of those documents, the law does not state that one is obliged to submit the document at that very moment. Fines may only be applied if an identity card or passport is not possessed at all, if the document is expired or if one explicitly refuses to show ID to the police. If one is unable to produce an ID card or passport (or any other form of credible identification) during a police control, one can (in theory) be brought to the next police post and detained for max. 12 hours, or until positive identification is possible. However, this measure is only applied if the police have reasonable grounds to believe the person detained has committed an offense.As driver's licences are not legally accepted forms of identification in Germany, most persons actually carry their "Personalausweis" with them.
* Greece: In Greece, the biggest change in Identity Documents Law happened in 2000, when some fields of the Police Identity Card (as Greeks call it) were rejected. These fields included religion, addresses, biometric characteristics and fingerprint. Oppositely, some fields were added. These are Latin transliterations of name and surname, blood type and Rhesus of the owner. Under this law, all Greeks over 12 years old must go to a police office to ask for an Identity Card. In Greece, there are many everyday things you cannot do without an ID. In fact, according to an older law, the Police ID is the only legal identity document and no one has a right to ask for more identity documents. Since the 1980s all legal services in Greece must be done with this ID. Also, you can travel within the EU with a Greek National ID card. Carrying the ID is not compulsory, however during routine police checks, if you are found without an ID, the police officer may take you to the nearest police station for further investigation.
* Hong Kong: See main article "Hong Kong Identity Card". Identity cards have been used since 1949, and been compulsory since 1980. Children are required to obtain their first identity card at age 11, and must change to an adult identity card at age 18.
* Hungary: See [] (in Hungarian) It is compulsory to possess an ID or passport from the age of 14. A driving license can be also used for identification from the age of 17. Private entities however, are legally required to accept passport or driver's licence for proof, but often do not accept them, only the ID card, thus in effect almost all citizens have the ID card. Police has the legal power to stop people on streets at random and ask for ID paper only if they have any proof that the person was involved in a crime, or is a witness. If the person has no proof for identification he/she can be detained for maximum 24 hours. It is a common misconception in Hungary that the Police can ask for your ID at any time, but since 1990 this is NOT the case.
* Indonesia: "Kartu Tanda Penduduk" (KTP; link goes to Indonesian Wikipedia) for Indonesian citizens and the KITAS for permanent residents.
* Israel: The "Teudat Zehut" is first issued at age 16 and is compulsory by 18.
* Jordan: First issued at age 16 and is compulsory by 18.
* Kenya: Issued at age 18 and is compulsory. Carrying the ID is not compulsory, however it's easier to get through police checks if you have one.
* Lithuania: " [ Asmens tapatybės kortelė] ", compulsory at 16.
* Luxembourg: First issued at age 15 and only issued to Luxembourg citizens, who are required by law to carry it at all times.
* Latvia: See [] (In English) An identity card or passport is the mandatory personal identification document for a citizen of Latvia or a non-citizen who lives in Latvia and has reached 15 years of age. However, ID cards are still not being issued, the ID card project is a concept, even though the legislative base is present.
* Madagascar: "Kara-panondrom-pirenen'ny teratany malagasy" ("Carte nationale d'identité de citoyen malagasy"). Possession is compulsory for Malagasy citizens from age 18 (by decree 78-277, 1978-10-03).
* Malaysia: "MyKad". Issued at age 12, it is updated at 18.
* Malta: "Karta ta' l-Identità" Issued at 14, updated at 16, compulsory at 18.
* Morocco
* Mozambique: "Bilhete de identidade"
* Netherlands: "Identiteitsbewijs" (Dutch Wikipedia): Since 1 January 2005 identification is compulsory at 14. Legal proof of identity are a Dutch or other European identity card or a passport. A Dutch driving license is valid while other driving licenses are not valid for identification. It is not compulsory to carry a proof of identity, but it is compulsory to show it to the authorities when they ask such under certain circumstances. Such circumstances include suspicious behaviour, committing any offense, or if a person is interviewed as a witness of a crime. Identity checks at events where the public order may be in danger are also allowed. Otherwise random identity checks by the police are not allowed in principle but can happen in certain areas such as a train station or doubtful areas i.e. redlight district, and a fine for not showing proof of identity may be successfully challenged in such cases. The fine for not being able to show proof of identity when legally required is € 50.-. Proof of identity is also required when opening a bank account and when entering an employment contract.
* Pakistan: Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC). First made at the age of 18, not compulsory to carry all the time. The card is mandatory for opening bank accounts, for passport and almost all substantial monetary transactions from car, land to high value assets.
* Poland: Polish National Identity Card The card is compulsory at 18. Those who do not comply with the relevant law are denied passports.Fact|date=January 2008
* Portugal: "Bilhete de identidade": The card is compulsory at 10, but can be issued before if needed.
* Romania: The "Carte de identitate" is compulsory at 14.
* Russia: Internal passport is compulsory at 14. Theoretically, Russia does not have any laws requiring people to carry a proof of identity. However, in practice, it is necessary to carry a passport at all times, especially in Moscow, as lack of an ID during ad-hoc police checks is sufficient grounds for detention.
* Saudi Arabia: The National ID Card "Bitaqat Al-Ahwal Al-Madaniya" (Arabic: بطاقة الأحوال المدنية) Issued at 15 for males, compulsory at 17. Non-compulsory for females but issued at 21.
* Serbia: The "Lična karta" (Лична карта) is compulsory at the age of 16, but it can be obtained when a person turns 10. It is issued only to Serbian citizens with permanent residence in Serbia. While it is the most often used official identification document, three other hold the same status - Passport, Driver's licence and Refugee ID card. Old style IDs, that refer to a the no longer existing states of SFRY or FRY, will expire in 2011.
* Singapore: It is compulsory for all citizens and permanent residents to apply for the "National Registration Identity Card" from age 15 onwards, and to re-register their cards for a replacement at age 30. It is not compulsory for bearers to hold the card at all times, nor are they compelled by law to show their cards to police officers conducting regular screening while on patrol, for instance. Failure to show any form of identification, however, may allow the police to detain suspicious individuals until relevant identification may be produced subsequently either in person or by proxy. The NRIC is also a required document for some government procedures, commercial transactions such as the opening of a bank account, or to gain entry to premises by surrendering or exchanging for an entry pass. Failure to produce the card may result in denied access to these premises or attainment of goods and services. In contrast to other countries, the NRIC also states the bearers' race. [ Immigration & Checkpoints Authority]
* Slovakia: " [ Občiansky preukaz] " ("Citzens card") is compulsory at the age of 15. It serves the purpose of general identification towards the authorities. It features a photograph, date of birth and the address. Every card has a unique number.
* Slovenia: The " [ Osebna izkaznica] " is compulsory for citizens of Slovenia who have a permanent residence in Slovenia, are at least 18 years old, and do not have a passport. It can be issued to citizens under 18 on request by their parent or legal guardian.

* South Africa: An Identity Document (ID) is issued at age 16 to all citizens; and permanent residents. Although passports and driver's licences are also acceptable forms of identification, banks only accept IDs. Your ID has a barcode, a photo, and your unique ID number. Information (including age and gender but excluding race) is referenced under your ID number: accounts, criminal record, voting history, driver's licence etc. You need an ID in order to apply for a passport, bank account, driver's licence or tertiary studies, as well as to register to vote. In most cases employers will also request a photocopy of your ID in order to process your appointment. Your voting history as well as any firearm licences are documented in your ID booklet. It is not compulsory to carry your ID with you at all times, but because it is needed for many day to day activities (like cheque/credit card purchases) most people carry it with them.

* South Korea: Korean citizens are issued a national ID card when reaching adulthood (typically when he/she reaches the age of 19 under East Asian age reckoning). This card will have a unique "Citizen's Registration Number" ("jūmin deungnok bunho"; Korean: 주민등록번호 - see main article Resident registration number (South Korea)). The first six numbers indicate the citizen's date of birth, while the last seven numbers includes information such as where the birth was registered. This number is used by Korean citizens for all forms of record-keeping, including online.

* Spain: The "Documento Nacional de Identidad" (DNI) (Spanish Wikipedia) is compulsory at 14, can be issued before if necessary (to travel to other European countries, for example). By law, it has to be carried at all times, and it is routinely used for identification, and it is often photocopied by private and public bureaus. Credit-card purchases cannot be made without showing this ID. Since 2006, it is being replaced by the " [ Electronic DNI] ".

* 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 (eg: 88xxxxxxxx for someone born in 1988). 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, but they too are required to carry some form of photo identification (such as a photocopy of their passport or foreign driving license) at all times.

* Thailand
* Turkey: The "Nüfus Cüzdanı" is compulsory right after birth without photograph, at the age of 18 a photograph must be sticked on. It has to be carried at all times and it is often photocopied by bureaus, banks, etc.
* Ukraine: Internal Ukrainian passport is compulsory (to possess but not to carry) at age of 16.
* Venezuela: In Venezuela it is called Cédula de Identidad, it is mandatory at the age of 10 and is renewed every 10 years
* Vietnam: Known as "giấy chứng minh nhân dân" ("people's proof document"), it is compulsory for all Vietnamese citizens over 14.

Countries with non-compulsory identity cards

* Austria
* Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issues the Canada Permanent Resident Card to permanent residents of Canada. A Citizenship Certificate can be given to any citizen that choose to apply, but is automatically issued to to naturalized Canadian citizens.
* Finland national identity cards exist, but commonly people use their driving licences or national social security cards as ID. When making purchases with a credit card, ID card will usually be asked for.
* France (see extended discussion below)
* Iceland: The National Register of Persons ("Þjóðskrá") issues national identity cards ("Nafnskírteini") to all teenagers in the year they become 14 years old. People in Iceland are required to present identification if asked by police, but it doesn't have to be this particular card as driving licenses and various other ID cards are considered valid.
* Italy: "Carta d'Identità" (Italian Wikipedia) May be issued to anyone (either Italian citizen or foreigner) who resides in Italy, and to Italian citizens living abroad. It is issued after the 15th birthday. It's not compulsory to have it or to carry it along, unless expressedly ordered by public security authorities.
* Sweden (see extended information below)
* Switzerland
*In the European Union a national identity card complying to EU standards can be used by European citizens as a travel document in place of a passport.


The country has had a national ID card since 1940, when it helped the Vichy authorities identify 76,000 for deportation as part of the Holocaust. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben often underlines this, showing how anthropometry may be used by the state.

In the past, identity cards were compulsory, had to be updated each year in case of change of residence and were valid for 10 years, and their renewal required paying a fee. In addition to the face photograph, the card included the family name, first names, date and place of birth, and the national identity number managed by the national INSEE registry, and 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.

Later, the laws were changed so that any official and certified document (even if expired and possibly unusable abroad) with a photograph and a name on it, issued by a public administration or enterprise (such as a railroad transportation card, a student card, a driving licence or a passport) can be used to prove one's identity. Also, law enforcement (police, gendarmerie) can now accept photocopies of these documents when performing identity checks, provided that the original document is presented within two weeks. For financial transactions, any of these documents must be equally accepted as proof of identity.

The current identity cards are now issued free of charge, and non-compulsory. Legislation has been published for a proposed compulsory biometric card system, which has been widely criticised, among others by the "National commission for computing and liberties" ("Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés", CNIL), the national authority and regulator on computing systems and databases. Identity cards issued since 2004 include basic biometric information (a digitized fingerprint record, a printed digital photograph and a scanned signature) and various anti-fraud systems embedded within the plastic-covered card.

The next generation of the French green card, named "Carte Vitale", for the Social Security benefit (which already includes a chip and a magnetic stripe currently containing very little information) will include a digital photograph and other personal medical information in addition to identity elements. It may then become a substitute for the National Identity Card.


Sweden has since October 1, 2005 issued national identity cards, but they are not compulsory and only obtainable by Swedish citizens.cite web|title=Fakta om nationellt id-kort|publisher=Swedish Police Service|url=|accessdate=2007-08-18] Commonly people use their driver's licenses or certified identification cards issued by the banks or the postal service as identification. Some larger companies and authorities also issue certified identity cards to their employees which are usually accepted in Sweden as identification.

Having an identity card in Sweden is not mandatory, but it is needed in several situations, e.g. when making purchases with a credit- or debit card when not using the PIN code, identification will usually be asked for, or when picking up a package at the postal service representatives. Opening a bank account or other situations requiring one to have a Swedish personal identity number necessitates a valid Swedish identity document.

Foreign identity cards and passports are often not accepted. It can be difficult to get a Swedish identity card if you haven't had have any before, creating a tough situation for immigrants in particular. The rule is that if you want a Swedish identity card when you have none, you must have a close family member who has a valid Swedish identity card who then vouches for your identity.cite web|title=Immigrants blocked from getting Swedish ID|publisher=The Local|url=|date=2007-02-15|accessdate=2007-08-18] cite web|title=Immigrant ID: Readers' reactions|publisher=The Local|url=|date=2007-03-01|accessdate=2007-08-18]

Countries with no identity cards

* Albania: In 2007 the Government of Albania approved opening an international tender on issuing the National Identity Cards. Issuance of these cards is expected to begin by the end of 2008.
* Australia: In 1985, there was a failed proposal to create an Australia Card. In 2006 the Australian Government announced the introduction a non-compulsory Access Card that would act as a gateway to services administered by [ The Department of Human Services] . This project, however, was terminated in November 2007.
* Denmark. No national identity card, but other identity cards exist which are needed e.g. in the bank if not using a passport.
* India (India is currently piloting an ID card system, see Multipurpose National Identity Card (India))
* Ireland: There is no requirement for Irish or UK citizens to identify themselves in Ireland. Citizens who are born in Ireland or the UK are allowed to travel within the Common Travel Area without identification. All others are required to show a passport, or National Identity card in the case of EEA nationals. There is a voluntary [ "Aoischárta Náisiúnta" / National Age Card] available to citizens over 18, showing name, date of birth, gender, photograph and other relevant security features.
* Japan: There are no national identity cards for Japanese citizens, but all resident foreigners must get a nihongo|Certificate of Alien Registration|外国人登録証明書|Gaikokujin Tōroku Shōmeisho. Non-Japanese citizens must be able to show that they have the right to stay in Japan (using a Certificate of Alien Registration if the person entered the country more than 90 days ago; or either a Certificate of Alien Registration or a passport with a valid landing permission if the person entered the country up to 90 days ago). Driving licences, nihongo|National Health Insurance Cards|国民健康保険証|Kokumin Kenkō Hokenshō, Certificates of Alien Registration and passports containing a registration for a Certificate for Alien Registration are used as ID for most purposes. Note that the insurance card doesn't contain any photo of the person in question.
* New Zealand: There is no national identity cards, however the New Zealand driver licence is the de facto national identity card used as a legal document to certify a person's identity or age when purchasing alcohol, authorising bank transactions and at other situations when identification is required. They do not show citizenship status and therefore a passport, or birth certificate in conjunction with a driver licence must be presented when required to show citizenship.
* Norway. No national identity card, but other identity cards exist which are needed e.g. in the bank if not using a passport.
* Philippines: In a move that could bolster the biometric identification industry worldwide, the legislature in Manila is working on a law to create a Philippine national identification card that combines biometric features with smart card functionality. The Philippine legislature expects to have a detailed plan for this cleared by committee by the time the full legislature convenes in the third week of June, and has the support of the police and the military. The I.D. would have name, birth information, signature, photo, fingerprints (index fingers and thumbs only) and a magnetic strip to which more information can be added later on. It would be used for voting, paying taxes and obtaining other government certificates and permits including passports and driver's licenses. It could also be used like a smart card for government benefits.
* United Kingdom: As of|2008 no national identity card exists, although there are plans to introduce one. See main article: British national identity card.
* United States: See below.

United States

There is no true national identity card in the United States, in the sense that there is no federal agency with nationwide jurisdiction that directly issues such cards to all American citizens. However, permanent resident aliens of the US ("green card holders") are now required to carry their Permanent Resident Cards at all times. All legislative attempts to create one, most recently the push by the Neoconservatism movement in America, have failed due to tenacious opposition from politicians who view it as a transgression of privacy and personal liberties, and people who regard the national identity card as the mark of a totalitarian society. Driver's licenses issued by the various states (along with special cards issued to non-drivers) are often used in lieu of a national identification card and are often required for boarding airline flights or entering office buildings. The REAL ID Act of 2005, which tightened requirements for issuance of driver's licenses, has been seen by both supporters and critics as bringing the United States much closer to a "de facto" national identity card system.


* As noted above, certain countries do not have national ID cards, but have other official documents that play the same role in practice (e.g. driver's license for the United States). While a country may not make it "de jure" compulsory to own or carry an identity document, it may be "de facto" strongly recommended to do so in order to facilitate certain procedures.


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