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Electronic identification

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An electronic identification ("eID") is a digital solution for proof of identity of citizens or organizations. They can be used to view to access benefits or services provided by government authorities, banks or other companies, for mobile payments, etc. Apart from online authentication and login, many electronic identity services also give users the option to sign electronic documents with a digital signature.

Italian electronic identity document.

One form of eID is an electronic identification card (eIC), which is a physical identity card that can be used for online and offline personal identification or authentication. The eIC is a smart card in ID-1 format of a regular bank card, with identity information printed on the surface (such as personal details and a photograph) and in an embedded RFID microchip, similar to that in biometric passports. The chip stores the information printed on the card (such as the holder's name and date of birth) and the holder's photo(s). Several photos may be taken from different angles along with different facial expressions, thus allowing the biometric facial recognition systems to measure and analyze the overall structure, shape and proportions of the face.[1] It may also store the holder's fingerprints. The card may be used for online authentication, such as for age verification or for e-government applications. An electronic signature, provided by a private company, may also be stored on the chip.

Countries which currently issue government-issued eIDs include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Estonia, Finland, Guatemala, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Latvia,[2] Lithuania,[3] Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Slovakia,[4] Malta, and Mauritius. Germany, Uruguay and previously Finland have accepted government issued physical eICs. Norway, Sweden and Finland accept bank-issued eIDs (also known as BankID) for identification by government authorities. There are also an increasing number of countries applying electronic identification for voting (enrollment, issuing voter ID cards, voter identification and authentication, etc.), including those countries using biometric voter registration.

eID in Europe[edit]

European Union[edit]

According to the EU electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS) Regulation, described as a pan-European login system, all organizations delivering public digital services in an EU member state shall accept electronic identification from all EU member states from 29 September 2018.[5][6][7]


Belgium has been issuing eIDs since 2003, and all identity cards issued since 2004 have been electronic, replacing the previous plastic card.[8]

Chip contents[edit]

The eID card contains a chip containing:[9]

  • the same information as legible on the card
  • the address of the card holder
  • the identity - and signature keys and certificates
  • fingerprints
  • place of birth

Using the eID[edit]

At home, the users can use their electronic IDs to log into specific websites (such as Tax-on-web, allowing them to fill in their tax form online).[10] To do this the user needs

  • an eID card
  • a smartcard reader
  • the eID middleware software

When other software (such as an Internet Browser) attempts to read the eID, the users are asked for confirmation for this action, and potentially even for their PIN.[10]

Other applications include signing emails with the user's eID certificate private key. Giving the public key to your recipients allows them to verify your identity.

Kids ID[edit]

Although legally Belgian citizens only have to carry an ID from the age of 12, as of March 2009,[11] a "Kids ID" has been introduced for children below this age, on a strictly voluntary basis. This ID, beside containing the usual information, also holds a contact number that people, or the child themselves, can call when they, for example, are in danger or had an accident. The card can be used for electronic identification after the age of six, and it does not contain a signing certificate as minors cannot sign a legally binding document. An important goal of the Kids-ID card is to allow children to join "youth-only" chat sites, using their eID to gain entrance. These sites would essentially block any users above a certain age from gaining access to the chat sessions, effectively blocking out potential pedophiles.


Bulgaria introduced a limited scale proof-of-concept of electronic identity cards, called ЕИК (Eлектронна карта за идентичност), in 2013.


Croatia introduced its electronic identity cards, called e-osobna iskaznica, on 8 June 2015.


Electronic identities in Denmark, issued by banks and the government jointly, is named MitID. The former eID, NemID, was depreciated as of October 2023. MitID authentication allows larger payments in MobilePay - a service used by more than half of the population as of 2017.


The Estonian ID card, issued since 2002, is also used for authentication for Estonia's Internet-based voting system. In February 2007, Estonia was the first country to allow for electronic voting for parliamentary elections. Over 30,000 voters participated in the country's e-election.[12]

At end of 2014 Estonia extended the Estonian ID Card to non-residents. The target of the project is to reach 10 million residents by 2025, which is 8 times more than the Estonian population of 1.3 million.


The Finnish electronic ID[13] was first issued to citizens on 1 December 1999. Electronic identities in Finland are issued by banks. They make it possible to log into Finnish authorities, universities and banks, and to make larger payments using the MobilePay mobile payment service. The mobiilivarmenne is utilizing the mobile phone SIM card for authentication, and is financed by a fee to the mobile network operator for each authentication.


Germany introduced its electronic identity cards, called Personalausweis, in 2010.


In Iceland, electronic IDs (Icelandic: Rafræn skilríki) are extensively used by the public and private sector today and were first introduced in 2008. The most widely used version today is on a mobile phone - with the authentication key held on a SIM card. In Iceland 95% of the eligible population (13 years or older) has an active eID, including 75% of over 75s. Icelandic eID holders used their eID more than 20 times a month in 2021.[14]

During enrollment, users create a PIN. Each time they need to identify, verify or sign something online, a prompt via flash SMS is initiated and the PIN code is validated. Today this system is used by all banks, government services (island.is portal), healthcare, eductation, document signing and over 300 private companies using for customer page logins (linked to the Icelandic ID no.). Since the only thing to remember is one's PIN code and their phone, it is very prevalent, and works as a sort of single-sign-on service. They are administered by Auðkenni hf., which was initially created by a consortium of banks but is now owned by the government.[15]

The first form of the system in 2008 was a special smartcard with an EMV chip, paired with a smartcard reader on the client's computer. The smartcard was first introduced in late 2008 for employees of government departments, large companies and the healthcare system. It was rolled out to all departments and companies handling sensitive data.[16] It was also possible to store one's eID on a debit card. In November 2013 the SIM card implementation for mobile phones was introduced, which led to a much quicker take-up of eIDs due to its ease of use.[17] By 2014, 40% of Icelanders were using eIDs.[18]


Indonesia introduced its electronic identity cards, called e-KTP. It was trialed in six areas in 2009 and launched nationwide in 2011.[19][20]


Italy introduced its electronic identity cards, called Carta d'Identità Elettronica (in Italy identified with the acronym CIE), to replace the paper-based ID card in Italy. Since 4 July 2016, Italy is in the process of renewing all ID cards to electronic ID cards.


eID and eSignature service provider in Latvia is called eParaksts


Since 12 February 2014, Malta is in the process of renewing all ID cards to electronic ID cards.


Electronic identities in Netherlands are called DigiD and Netherlands is currently developing an eID scheme.


Electronic identities in Norway issued by banks are called BankID (different than Sweden's BankID). They make it possible to log into Norwegian authorities, universities and banks, and to make larger payments using the Vipps mobile payment service, used by more than half of the population as of 2017. The Norwegian BankID på mobil service is utilizing the mobile phone SIM card for authentication, and is financed by a fee to the mobile network operator for each authentication.


Since 25 May 2023, Romanians are able to use their national ID to sign up to the RoEID application which allows them to access public servcies[21]


Electronic identity cards in Spain are called DNIe and have been issued since 2006.


SwissID,[22] developed by SwissSign,[23] is a certified digital ID in Switzerland offered since 2017 (2010–17 as SuisseID). As a base for a new Federal Act on Electronic Identification Services (e-ID Act),[24] an eID-concept had been developed by the authorities, yet experts criticized its technology part.[25] The law was accepted by the Swiss parliament on 29 September 2019. It would have updated current legislation and would have continued to allow private companies or public organizations to issue eIDs if certified by a new federal authority. However, an optional referendum called for a public vote on this issue in the weeks until Sunday,[26] 7 March 2021.[27] The vote resulted in 35.6% Yes and 64.4% No, rejecting the proposed new law.[28]

SwissSign might develop the SwissID further, to make it compatible with future E-ID regulations.[29]


The most widespread electronic identification in Sweden is issued by banks and called BankID. The BankID may be in the form of a certificate file on disk, on card or on smart phones. The latter (Swedish mobile BankID service) was used by 84 percent of the Swedish population in 2019.[30] A Mobile BankID login does not require a fee since the service is provided by banks rather than mobile operators. It can be used both for authentication within various apps and web services on the same smart phone, and also for web pages on other devices. It also supports fingerprint and face recognition authentication on compatible iOS and Android devices.

Electronic IDs are used for secure web login to Swedish authorities, banks, health centers (allowing people to see their medical records and prescriptions and book doctors visits), and companies such as pharmacies. Mobile BankID also allows the Swish mobile payment service, utilized by 78 percent of the Swedish population in 2019, at first mainly for payments between individuals.[31] BankID was previously used for university applications and admissions, but this was prohibited by Swedbank since universities utilized the system for distribution of their own student logins. Increasingly, BankID is used as an added security for signing contracts.[32]

eID in other countries[edit]


Afghanistan issued its first electronic ID (e-ID) card on 3 May 2018. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was the first to receive the card. Afghan President was accompanied by First Lady Rula Ghani, his VP, Head of Afghan Senate, Head of Afghan Parliament, Chief Justice and other senior government officials, and they also received their cards.[33] As of January 2021, approximately 1.7 million Afghan citizens have obtained their e-ID cards.[34]

Costa Rica[edit]

Costa Rica plans to introduce facial recognition data into its national identification card.[35]


Guatemala introduced its electronic identity card called DPI (Documento Personal de Identificación) in August 2010.



Indonesian electronic ID was trialed in six areas in 2009 and launched nationwide in 2011.[36][37]


Electronic identity cards in Israel have been issued since July 2013.


Kazakhstan introduced its electronic identity cards in 2009.


Mauritius has had electronic identity cards since 2013.


Mexico had an intent to develop an official electronic biometric ID card for all youngsters under the age of 18 years and was called the Personal Identity Card (Record of Minors), which included the data verified on the birth certificate, including the names of the legal ascendant(s), a unique key of the Population Registry (CURP), a biometric facial recognition photograph, a scan of all 10 fingerprints, and an iris scan registration.[38]


General Multi-purpose Electronic Identity Cards are issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), a Federal Government agency under the Presidency. The NeID Card complies with ICAO standard 9303, ISO standard 7816–4., as well as GVCP for the MasterCard-supported payment applet. NIMC plans to issue 50m multilayer-polycarbonate cards, the first set being contact only, but also dual-interface with DESFire Emulation in the near future.


Pakistan officially began its nationwide Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) distribution in 2002, with over 89.5 x CNICs issued by 2012.[39] In October 2012, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) introduced the smart national identity card (SNIC), which contains a data chip and 36 security features. The SNIC complies with ICAO standard 9303 and ISO standard 7816–4. The SNIC can be used for both offline and online identification, voting, pension disbursement, social and financial inclusion programmes and other services.[40][41] NADRA aims to replace all 89.5 million CNICs with SNICs by 2020.


Serbia has its first trustful and reliable electronic identity since June 2019. The first reliable service provider is The Office for IT and eGovernment, through which citizens and residents of Serbia can access services on eGovernment Portal and eHealth portal.[42][43][44] The electronic identification offers two levels of security, first basic level with authentication of only user name and password, and medium level of two-factor of authentication.[45]

Sri Lanka[edit]

Since on 1 January 2016, Sri Lanka is in the process of developing a Smart Card based RFID E-National Identity 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 informations physically by storing in the cloud.


In Turkey the e-Government (e-Devlet) Gateway is a largely scaled Internet site that provides access to all public services from a single point. The purpose of the Gateway is to present public services to the citizens, enterprises and public institutions effectively and efficiently with information and communication technologies.[46]


Uruguay has had electronic identity cards since 2015. The Uruguayan eID has a private key that allows to digitally sign documents, and has the user fingerprint stored in order to allow to verify the identity. It is also a valid travel document in some South American countries. As of 2017 the old laminated ID coexists with the new eID.


Electronic identification can also be attributed to the manufacturing sector, where the technology of electronic identification is transferred to individual parts or components within a manufacturing facility in order to track, and identify these parts to enhance manufacturing efficiency. This can also be referred to location detection technologies within the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NIMC's national id specs" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Latvijas Republikas Saeima - Electronic ID cards to be introduced in Latvia". saeima.lv. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
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  4. ^ "eID karta". slovensko.sk. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ Info on eIDAS, Connectis.
  6. ^ "Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and o... - EUR-Lex". eur-lex.europa.eu.
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  8. ^ "FAQ - eID - IBZ Institutions et Population". www.ibz.rrn.fgov.be. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  9. ^ "FAQ eID Algemene Directie Identiteit en Burgerzaken". www.ibz.rrn.fgov.be (in Dutch). Vermeldingen. Retrieved 2023-01-24.
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  11. ^ "Kids-ID Presentation" (in French, Dutch, and German). Retrieved 16 October 2009.
  12. ^ "IdBlog » the Number of Electronic Voters Tripled". Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012. idBlog - The number of electronic voters tripled
  13. ^ "Citizen Certificate and electronic identity". Retrieved 16 January 2021.Finnish electronic ID
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  17. ^ "Persónuskilríki komin í símann". Skilriki.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2023-06-15.
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  22. ^ Home | SwissID, swissid.ch (de, fr, it, en)
  23. ^ Home | SwissSign | Electronic certificates, swisssign.com (de, fr, en)
  24. ^ (en) Federal Act on Electronic Identification Services (e-ID Act), Federal Council, on the portal of the Swiss government (admin.ch) / (de) Bundesgesetz über elektronische Identifizierungsdienste (E-ID-Gesetz) / (fr) Loi fédérale sur les services d’identification électronique (LSIE) / (it) Legge federale sui servizi d’identificazione elettronica (Legge sull’Ie) / (rm) Lescha federala davart ils servetschs d’identificaziun electronica (Lescha e-ID)
  25. ^ Lukas Mäder: Digital passport has deficiencies in data protection – due to outdated technology – experts criticize the federal government's e-ID because data protection was not taken into account from the beginning. By using more modern technology, sensitive usage data could be avoided. / (de) Digitaler Pass hat Mängel beim Datenschutz – wegen veralteter Technologie – Experten kritisieren die E-ID des Bundes, weil der Datenschutz nicht von Beginn an mitgedacht wurde. Mit modernerer Technik könnten heikle Nutzungsdaten vermieden werden. / NZZ 4 June 2019
  26. ^ de: Urnengang
  27. ^ Federal Act on Electronic Identification Services (e-ID Act) – On 7 March 2021 the Swiss electorate voted against the Federal Act on Electronic Identification Services (e-ID Act). Federal Council, on the portal of the Swiss government admin.ch (de, fr, it, rm, eb)
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