Pakistan – Global Laws on National Identity Cards

By | July 14, 2016

While it is advisable, and still not compulsory for the security-threatened Pakistani citizens to always carry the Computerized National Identity Card (NIC), which is issued at the age of 18, different countries have enacted varying laws in this context.

Research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” by visiting the official websites of the worldwide Interior Ministries, Justice Ministries, Attorney Generals’ offices and Home Ministries etc shows that while there are numerous countries on the globe that have made it mandatory for their inhabitants to be in possession of their identity cards at all times, others have not made it a legal binding upon their citizens to always carry this document.

Some nations like North Korea and Egypt etc slap fines and punishments on their citizens for not carrying their ID cards.

Then there are countries on the world map with non-compulsory identity cards and there are ones with no identity cards at all.

The minimum age for getting ID cards issued also varies from country to country.

Research shows that North Korea is probably the only country that imposes the strongest fines on its people for not carrying their ID cards.

To travel, North Koreans not only require an identity card, but also need a “travel pass” with specified destination and written permission.

Sometimes they may be punished with time in a labour camp for not carrying their ID cards, however, this is often only a short sentence and people are usually released upon presentation of their cards at a later date.

The North Korean identity card is made of plastic and is similar in size to most European ID cards. Between 2004 and 2008, all records were transferred to an electronic Korean-language central database.

Most North Koreans do not have passports because of restricted movement by the state, and usually only government officials are issued these travel documents.

North Koreans working abroad are issued contracts between North Korea and the host country to allow for travel, and government officers often accompany and supervise workers.

By the way, after almost 69 years since its inception, India is currently piloting an ID card system, primarily to know who is living on its soil and to facilitate them in enjoying the basic state utilities without much trouble.

A peek through the archives of various esteemed Indian media outlets like the Times of India, Forbes (India) magazine, The Hindu,, the Hindustan Times, the NDTV and the Economic Times etc) and a visit to the website of the Unique Identification Authority of India show that the world’s largest democracy is currently undertaking the planet’s largest 12-digit national identification number project!

The Unique Identification Authority of India is busy collecting the biometric and demographic data of country’s residents and is storing them in a centralized database.

The state department has nearly issued a 12-digit unique identity number called “Aadhaar” to each resident. This unique number is actually a one stop solution to many problems like a getting new phone, internet, cable and electricity connection, besides being helpful in saving time and hassle in opening bank accounts and buying insurance policies etc.

Bringing every resident to the database, India is hence embarking on a track to register its entire 1.25 billion population through the Aadhaar digital ID.

It is a biometrics-based digital identity assigned for a person’s lifetime, verifiable online instantly in the public domain, at any time, from anywhere, in a paperless way.

It is designed to enable government agencies to deliver a retail public service securely based on biometric data (fingerprint and face photo etc) along with demographic data (name, age, gender, address, parent/spouse name, mobile phone number) of a person.

The data is transmitted in encrypted form over the internet for authentication, aiming to free it from the limitations of physical presence of a person at a given place.

By July 2013, the Indian government had spent US$460 million) on the project and by February 2015, the government had spent US$840 million on the project that had generated 786.5 million Aadhaar numbers by then.

As of April 30, 2016[update], over one billion Aadhaar numbers were issued.

It is imperative to note that on March 3, 2016, a new “Money Bill” was introduced in the Parliament for this particular purpose and on March 11, the “Aadhaar Targeted Delivery of Financial and other subsidies, benefits and services Act 2016 by passed by the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha).

However, some civil liberties groups like the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties and Indian Social Action Forum etc had opposed the project on privacy concerns.

A January 14, 2016 World Bank report had quoted itsChief Economist Kaushik Basu as saying: “We estimate that this (Aadhaar digital ID) is saving approximately $1 billion (Rs 650 crores) a year by reducing corruption and leakage for the Indian government. It is a help in fiscal budgeting. It is a help in providing other useful services.”

In Thailand, National ID card is compulsory for all citizens at the age of seven.

In Romania, it is compulsory to have and carry an ID card at the age of 14.

In Russia, an Internal Passport is compulsory at 14 (but there is no penalty for not having one until the age of 16) and it is reissued at age 20 and 45. Citizens can use any other document for identification, although in certain cases an internal passport is required (e.g. notarial transactions, sale of land and other high-value assets).

In Sri Lanka, all citizens over the age of 16 need to apply for an ID card.

Each Sri Lankan NIC has a unique 10 digit number that signifies year of birth etc. An NIC number in Sri Lanka 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 uncertain security situation in the country.

NICs are not issued to non-Sri Lankan 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.

In Turkey, an NIC is compulsory right after birth without photograph. At the age of 15, a photograph must be stuck on. It has to be carried at all times by Turkish citizens and it is often photocopied by bureaus, banks, etc.

In Saudi Arabia, the National ID Card “Bitaqat Al-Ahwal Al-Madaniya” is issued at age 15 for males and compulsory at 17. It is non-compulsory for females but issued at age 18.

In Luxembourg, ID cards are first issued at age 15. Citizens are required by law to carry them at all times.

In Portugal, all citizens starting at the age of six are required to obtain an identity card, but are not required to carry them.

In Malaysia, ID cards are issued at age 12, and updated at 18. It is mandatory to carry them after the age of 12.

In Poland, it is compulsory at 18. Those who do not comply with the relevant law are subject to restriction of freedom for up to one month or a may have to pay a fine.

The Iraqi Nation Card, an electronic biometric ID card, is compulsory for all citizens since the start of a turbulent and bloody 2016 for them.

Compulsory ID cards were introduced in Poland during the German occupation after 1939 and remained in effect after the end of the war. As of 2016, update each Polish citizen aged 18 and older was still required to possess an ID card.

In Holland, although it is not compulsory to carry a proof of identity at all times, it has been made compulsory since January 2005 to show identification, when an authorized officer asks for it, from the age of 14.

The fine for not being able to show proof of identity, when legally required in Holland, is €60 (16 and over) or €30 (if 14 or 15).

In Germany, it is compulsory for all German citizens aged 16 or older to possess either an identity card or a passport, but not to carry it.

In Belgium, the ID card is first issued at age 12, compulsory by 15. It has to be carried at all times.

In Ivory Coast, every citizen must immediately carry an ID card after turning 18.

In Bosnia & Herzegovina and Chile, citizens must immediately carry an ID card after turning 18.

In Croatia, citizens above 16 are obliged by law to be carried their ID cards at all times.

In China, First issued at school age, the Resident Identity Card is compulsory at 16.

In Egypt, the Personality Verification Card is compulsory at the age of 16. Not carrying the ID card can lead to a penalty of 200 Egyptian Pounds.

In Lebanon, a compulsory identity document is issued by the police on behalf of the Ministry of Interior and is the main form of identification on the territory of the Republic of Lebanon. All Lebanese are obliged by law to carry their identity cards with them at all times and are subject to fines should they not. As of June 30, 2006, all Lebanese nationals must hold the new magnetic Identification Card.

In Singapore, a National Registration Identity Card is compulsory for all citizens and permanent residents from the age of 15 onwards and to re-register their cards for a replacement at age 30. It is not compulsory for bearers to carry 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.

Singapore’s NRIC is also a required document for several places, such as renewal of the passports, voting for any election or national service, where if any failure will result in a denial to do so. In contrast to other countries, the NRIC also states the bearers’ race.

In Spain, an ID card is compulsory at 14. 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.

Many public and private transactions in Spain cannot be made without showing this ID. Since 2006, it is being replaced by the Electronic national identification document.

In South Korea, citizens are issued a national ID card at the age of 17. The card has a unique registration number. 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.

In UAE, every person residing in the country must have an ID card.

In Hong Kong, although identity cards have been used since 1949, they have been made 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.

In Vietnam, it is compulsory for all Vietnamese citizens over 14 to get and carry an ID card.

In Taiwan, residents who are 14 years or older and have household registration in the Taiwan area. It is compulsory at 14.

In Hungary, 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.

The Hungarian police have 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.

Identity cards in Panama are officially required at the age of 18. Panamanian citizens must carry their cards at all times.

In Kuwait, all residents must have a Civil ID card. The parents of newborns should apply for registration of the child within 60 days after birth. An expatriate must apply for a civil ID card within 30 days of getting his residency.

In Indonesia, identity cards are issued upon reaching the age of 17 or upon marriage.

The Iranian ID card is compulsory for citizens and permanent residents, aged 15 and over.

The Israeli ID card first issued at age 16 and is compulsory by 18.

Countries with non-compulsory identity cards: These are countries where official authorities only issue identity cards to those who request them, but where it is not illegal to be without an official identity document.

For some services, identification is needed, but documents such as passports or identity cards issued by banks or driving licences can be used.

These nations include the United States, where the Passport Card here is issued to citizens upon request. Although its main purpose is for land and sea travel, it is also accepted for domestic air travel. The US 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. The passport card can be used as valid proof of citizenship and of identity both inside and outside the United States. Most people, however, use documents like the state issued driver’s licenses as identity cards. In several states there is an obligation to identify oneself to the police on request. In the past, compulsory ID cards or something compulsory resembling ID cards had existed, such as internal passports for freed African Americans before the abolition of slavery, and the draft cards for men(during times when men were conscripted into the army).

Other countries with non-compulsory identity cards include:

Austria, Canada, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Finland, France (in the past, identity cards here were compulsory and had to be updated each year in case of change of residence. Valid for 10 years, their renewal required paying a fee), Iceland, Switzerland, Lithuania and Mexico etc.

Countries with no identity cards: These are countries where official authorities do not issue any identity cards. When identification is needed, e.g. passports, identity cards issued by banks etc., or cards that are not mainly identity cards like driver’s licenses can be used. Most countries that are not listed at all in this page have no National ID Card.

In the United Kingdom, identity cards were introduced for those who wanted them in 2009, but the requirement and the cards were abolished by 2010. When a formal identity document is needed, a passport or a driver’s licence is needed. For simpler cases like age verification, there are simpler age proof cards, certified under the “Proof of Age Standards Scheme,” in case a person does not having a driving licence.

Other countries with no identity cards include: Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Philippines etc.

Source: The News International