National Registration Identity Card

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National Registration Identity Card
Date first issued 1965
Issued by Singapore

The National Registration Identity Card (abbreviation: NRIC, or colloquially IC; simplified Chinese: 身份证; traditional Chinese: 身份證; Tamil: அடையாள அட்டை) is the identity document in use in Singapore. It is compulsory for all persons who are lawfully resident in Singapore[1] (other than certain exempted persons) to register for an NRIC either upon becoming a resident or, if below the age of 15, within one year of attaining that age.[2]

Holders of an NRIC are responsible for the card's custody but are not required to carry the card on their person. Areas that will require NRICs to be verified include passports (immigration officers), polling stations (police officers) and those who undergo National Service (under Singapore Armed Forces, the police force and civil defence force).[3] Notwithstanding this, if no identification can be produced the police may also detain suspicious individuals until such identification can be produced subsequently either in person or by proxy.

Production of an NRIC is also required for any person seeking accommodation at any hotel, boarding house, hostel or similar dwelling place and for any person offering to pawn an article at a pawnbroker. In the case of hotels, boarding houses, etc., if a person is not in possession of, or fails to produce, an NRIC, the owner, manager or other person in charge of such business must notify the nearest police station of the fact immediately.

The NRIC is also sometimes a required document for certain government procedures or in commercial transactions such as the opening of a bank account. In addition, many businesses and other organisations in Singapore habitually request sight of an NRIC to verify identity or to allow a person entry to premises by surrendering or exchanging for an entry pass. There is no requirement to produce the NRIC in these situations and often, either providing any other form of identification (such as credit card, work or office pass, card with a photo on it) or simply providing an NRIC number (without producing the card itself) will suffice.

The National Registration Act of 1965 (last amendment in 2001) legislates the issuance and usage of NRICs. Section 7 indicates that all registered persons of the national registry are to be issued with the identity card.[4]

Exempted Persons[edit]

The following persons are exempted from the requirement to register for an NRIC:

  • the President of Singapore;
  • a child of any age before the start of the year in which he attains the age of 15 years;
  • any bona fide traveller who is in possession of a valid passport or other travel document or official document of identity that has been stamped by an immigration officer of Singapore to show that he is permitted to remain in Singapore for a restricted period;
  • any person to whom a diplomatic identity card, a consular identity card or an international organisation identity card has been issued by the Government;
  • a member of any visiting armed force lawfully present in Singapore (excluding locally enlisted personnel) in possession of the official identity card or other document of identity ordinarily issued to members of such force; and
  • any person in possession of a valid identity card which has been lawfully issued to him in any of the States of Malaya and who has not been granted unrestricted residence in Singapore under any immigration law in Singapore.

Any person to which the last exemption above applies who resides in Singapore for a period exceeding 30 days is required to report their place of residence in Singapore, within 40 days of arrival; and every subsequent change of residence in Singapore, within 28 days of such change.

Type and design[edit]

The NRIC comes in two main colour schemes: pink for citizens and blue for permanent residents (PR). Each card is identified by an NRIC number ("Identity Card Number"), which is a unique set of nine alpha-numerics given to each citizen or PR at birth registration or successful attainment of permanent residence status. These numbers are identical to that on birth certificates for citizens, and are automatically transferred to the NRIC at age 15 and above.

Also indicated on the front side of the card, are the holder's name, race, date of birth, sex, country of birth, and a colour photograph. On the back of the card is the NRIC number and its bar code, a fingerprint, issue date of the card, and the holder's current residential address. The nationality of permanent residents is indicated on the card as well; this field is absent for citizens. NRIC holders can choose to add in their ethnic names below their name in English (in Chinese characters, Jawi script or Tamil script). For Chinese characters, whether they will be in simplified or traditional script will depend on the name on the holder's birth certificate. Any change to the information on the card has to be reported to the authorities; failing to do so is an offence under the law.

Until 29 September 2002, the NRIC indicated its holder's blood group. This information was subsequently removed due to the widespread availability of quick blood group tests that are conducted during medical emergencies.

Since 2008, Singapore started issuing a card, termed a "Visit Pass", similar in design with the NRIC to long-term pass holders (such as foreigners studying or working in Singapore), replacing the formerly issued laminated green cards. The Visit Pass is green in colour, uses the term "Foreign Identification Number" (FIN) instead of the NRIC number, as well as showing the nationality of the pass holder. The card includes a date of expiry, conditional on the card holder holding a valid passport.[5]

Structure of the NRIC number/FIN[edit]

The structure of the NRIC number/FIN is #0000000@ where:

#

  • This is a letter that can be "S", "T", "F" or "G" depending on the status of the holder.
  • Singapore citizens and permanent residents born before the year 2000 are assigned the letter "S".
  • Singapore citizens and permanent residents born in and after 2000 are assigned the letter "T".
  • Foreigners holding employment or student passes issued before 2000 are assigned the letter "F".
  • Foreigners holding employment or student passes issued in and after 2000 are assigned the letter "G".
  • Before 2000, it was commonly thought that "S" stands for "Singapore" and "F" for "Foreign". In 2000, the "T" and "G" ranges (which are one letter after "S" and "F" respectively) were introduced to avoid conflicts with previously issued numbers. As "S" is the 19th letter of the alphabet, it was reinterpreted as denoting that the person was born in the 1900s (1900–1999), although there were some who were born in the 1800s. "T" is the 20th letter of the alphabet, denoting that the person was born in the years 2000–2099.

0000000

  • This is a 7 digit serial number assigned to the document holder
  • For Singapore citizens and permanent residents born in 1968 and after, their NRIC number will start with their year of birth e.g. 71xxxxx#. For those born in 1967 and earlier, the NRIC number does not relate to year of birth, and commonly begins with 0 or 1. Non-native Singaporeans who were born before 1967 are assigned the heading numbers 2 or 3 upon attaining permanent residency or citizenship. They are randomly assigned according to the issuance number. Subsequent numbers are only for people attaining permanent residency or citizenship after 2008 ("4" or "5").

@

  • This is the checksum letter calculated based on # and 0000000. The algorithm to calculate the checksum of the NRIC is not publicly available; as of 1999, the Ministry of Home Affairs only sold the algorithm to Singapore-based organisations demonstrating a "legitimate need" for it.[6] That said, the checksum algorithms for the NRIC (S- and T-series) and the FIN have been easily reverse-engineered.[7]

The first NRIC number numerically is S0000001I (Yusof bin Ishak, first President of Singapore, deceased November 1970), followed by S0000002G (former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew), and then S0000003E (Kwa Geok Choo, wife of Lee Kuan Yew, deceased October 2010).

Offences and penalties[edit]

There are a variety of offences listed in the National Registration Act and its implementing legislation. These include:

  • failure to register when required;
  • giving a false contact address or failure to report a change of residence;
  • possession of one or more identity cards without lawful authority or reasonable excuse;
  • unlawfully depriving any person of an identity card;
  • defacing, mutilation or destruction of an identity card.

These offences on conviction could result in a fine of up to $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both.

The Act also provides for a second category of offences which carry more significant penalties of a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to 10 years or both. These relate to offences involving forgery or fraud in respect of an identity card.

Failure to comply with the NRIC regulations is an offence and if convicted, could result in imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $3,000 or to both.

Privacy issues[edit]

For years, the NRIC number has been used by both government and commercial organisations as an unambiguous and "tidy" identifier for Singaporeans. Full NRIC numbers have been listed to identify winners of lucky draws.[8] It is possible to borrow books from the National Library Board simply by scanning the barcode on a borrower's NRIC card at self-service kiosks, without requiring further authentication. Such instances have led to questions of possible fraud and identity theft. In response to such concerns, only the last three or four digits and the letters are publicly displayed or published as the first three digits can easily give away a person's age.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Section 5, National Registration Act, Cap. 201
  2. ^ Section 3, National Registration Regulations, Cap. 201, RG 2
  3. ^ Sections 6 and 7, National Registration Regulations, Cap. 201, RG 2
  4. ^ National Registration Act (Cap. 201)
  5. ^ New long-term pass for foreigners living in S'pore
  6. ^ Application Form for UIN/FIN Algorithm. Ministry of Home Affairs. 1999. . Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Ngiam S. T. (2004). "Fun With Numbers". 
  8. ^ Balasingam-Chow Yu Hui (7 September 2006). "Take steps to prevent breach of privacy" (Letter to the forum). The Straits Times. 
  9. ^ Ngiam Shih Tung (3 May 2000). "Data privacy risk overlooked in IT rush" (Letter to the forum; reprint). The Straits Times. 

External links[edit]