Electronic identification

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An electronic identification ("eID") is an electronic identification solution of citizens or organizations, for example in view to access benefits or services provided by government authorities, banks or other companies. Apart from online authentication many eICs also give users the option to sign electronic documents with a digital signature.

One form of eID is an electronic identification card, which is a physical identity card that can be used for online and offline personal identification or authentication. The eIC is a smartcard 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 biometric photo. 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 Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan,[1][2] Portugal, Romania, Estonia, Latvia,[3] Lithuania,[4] Spain, Slovakia.,[5] Malta, and Mauritius. Germany and previously Finland have accepted government issued physical eIC:s. Norway, Sweden and Finland accept bank-issued eIDs (also known as BankId) for identification by government authorities.


Pakistan introduced the computerized national identity card (CNIC) in 2000, with over 89.5 million CNICs issued by 2012.[6] 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.[1][2] NADRA aims to replace all 89.5 million CNICs with SNICs by 2020.


Belgium has been issuing eIDs since 2002, and all identity cards issued since 2004 have been electronic, replacing the previous plastic card.

Chip contents[edit]

The eID card contains a chip containing:[7]

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

Using the eID[edit]

At home, the user can use his eID to log in to specific websites (such as Tax-on-web, allowing them to fill in their tax form online).[8] 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 user is asked for confirmation for this action, and potentially even for their PIN.[8]

Other applications include signing emails with the user's eID certificate private key. Giving the public key to your recipient 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,[9] 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 itself, 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" chatsites, 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 identity cards in Denmark are issued by banks and called NemID.


The Estonian ID card 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.[10]

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.[11]


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


Guatemala introduced its electronic identity cards, called DPI (Documento Personal de Identificación), to replace the previous Cédula de Vecindad. (See DPI at Wikipedia in Spanish.)


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. The first Italian EICs were issued in 2001. As of 1 January 2006 the Italian government requires that paper based ID cards be replaced by EICs. By the end of 2009, 1.8 million Italian citizens had obtained EICs.

The Italian constitution permits only Italian municipalities to issue identity cards to citizens. The Ministry of Internal Affairs supplies the required network infrastructure, software updates and security architecture. As a consequence the required issuing system is more complex than centralized ones used by other countries or for other electronic cards. Recently many municipalities joined the EIC system and currently about 180 municipalities are equipped to issue EICs. The system allows smaller municipalities to collaborate with nearby larger ones to reduce the printing cost. The potential user base is estimated at about 50 million.

The Italian EIC is intended for both online and offline identification. Therefore, apart from the printed information, data for identification are stored on a microchip as well as a laser band. Specifically, the microchip contains a digital certificate for online authentication and (optionally) a certificate for digital signatures. The Italian EIC is explicitly designed to give access to e-government services and will become the standard for access to online services offered to Italian citizens by public authorities. The technical specifications for the Italian identity card have been developed by the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the University of Rome, Tor Vergata. The most recent legal document regarding Italian EIC standards and requirements is the Decreto Ministeriale n. 229 del 8-11-2007.


Mexico has an official electronic biometric ID card for all youngsters under the age of 18 years called the Personal Identity Card (Record of Minors), which includes the data verified on the birth certificate, including the names of the parents, a unique key of the Population Registry (CURP), a biometric facial recognition photograph, a scan of all 10 fingerprints, and an iris scan registration.[12]


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


Electronic identity cards in Israel have been issued since July 2013. The EIC is not yet compulsory, it is issued free of charge to promote it, and is valid for 10 years.[citation needed]


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


Electronic identity cards in Norway are issued by banks and called BankID. They make it possible to login to Norwegian authorities, universities and banks. The Norwegian mobile BankID is utilizing the mobile phone SIM card for authentication, and is financed by a fee to the mobile network operator.


Electronic identity cards in Sweden are issued by banks and called BankID. They make it possible for secure web login to Swedish authorities, universities and banks. The BankID may be in the form of a certificate file on disk, on card or on smartphone. The latter (Swedish mobile BankID service) does not require a specific fee to the mobile network operator, and also makes it possible to login on a desktop computer web window.


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


Mauritius has had electronic identity cards since 2013.


  1. ^ a b "Image: 04 nadra-04.jpg, (921 × 768 px)". nadra.gov.pk. 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2015-09-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Al Shamrani wins AFC Player of the Year award | Business Recorder". brecorder.com. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  3. ^ "Latvijas Republikas Saeima - Electronic ID cards to be introduced in Latvia". saeima.lv. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  4. ^ "ELEKTRONINĖ ASMENS TAPATYBĖS KORTELĖ - ASMENS TAPATYBĖS KORTELĖ (ATK) » Bendra informacija". eid.lt. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  5. ^ "eID karta". slovensko.sk. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  6. ^ "89.5mln CNICs issued; 95 pc population covered - Pakistan State Times". pstimes.com. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  7. ^ "Over de eID (FAQ)" (in Dutch). Belgian federal government (fedict). Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ a b "De elektronische identiteitskaart (eID) (Internet Explorer)" (PDF) (in Dutch). Belgian federal government (fedict). Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  9. ^ "Kids-ID Presentation" (in French, Dutch, and German). Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  10. ^ [1] idBlog - The number of electronic voters tripled
  11. ^ John Fingas. "Estonia will hand out digital ID cards to non-residents". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  12. ^ "Inicio - Registro Nacional de Población e Identificación Personal". renapo.gob.mx. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 

External links[edit]


European Union[edit]






  • Mexican Directorate General of the National Population Register