National Registration Identity Card
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The National Registration Identity Card (abbreviation: NRIC) is the compulsory identity document issued to citizens and permanent residents of Singapore. People must register for an NRIC within one year of attaining the age of 15, or upon becoming a citizen or permanent resident. Re-registrations are required for persons attaining the ages of 30 and 55, unless the person has been issued with an NRIC within ten years prior to the re-registration ages.
The National Registration Act of 1965 (last amendment in 2016) legislates the establishment of a national registry, as well as the issuance and usage of NRICs. The government agency responsible for the national registry and issuance of NRICs is the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), a department under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Types and design of NRIC
The current NRIC takes the form of a credit card-size polycarbonate card. The polycarbonate cards were first issued in the 1990s, replacing the larger laminated cards issued since 1966. The NRIC comes in two main colour schemes: pink for Singaporean 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.
Biometric data are collected during card registration which includes the person's left and right thumbprints as well as iris images.
Any change or error in the information on the NRIC (apart from change of address) must be reported within 28 days to ICA for a replacement card. A change of address does not require a replacement card, but must be reported within 28 days to ICA. Since 1 October 2020, reporting a change in address is done via an online e-service at the ICA website. For verification, a 6-digit PIN is mailed to the new address, and the applicant is asked to enter the PIN into the e-service. After successful verification, a sticker showing the new address will be mailed to the applicant, who then must paste the sticker over the old address on the NRIC.
The front side of the card features the words "REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE" and the coat of arms of Singapore across the top, and contains the following information:
- Identity Card No.
- Non-colour photograph of the holder
- Name (in English)
- Date of Birth
- Country/Place of Birth
A number of security features can be found on the front side of the card. The words "REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE" change colours when the card is tilted. A window containing a smaller photograph of the holder is located below the main photograph; the window photograph can also be viewed from the reverse side of the card under light. A multiple laser image on the bottom right alternates between the holder's NRIC no. and the lion head symbol when viewed from different angles.
The rear side of the card has the following information:
- Barcode of the NRIC number
- Right thumbprint of the holder
- (for PRs only) Nationality
- Date of Issue
Until 29 September 2002, NRICs 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.
Long Term Pass cards
Since 2008, foreigners residing in Singapore on long-term passes are issued green-coloured polycarbonate Long Term Pass cards, replacing the formerly issued green paper-laminated cards and stamp endorsement on travel documents. Unlike the NRIC, all pass holders regardless of age must register for a Long Term Pass card, although fingerprinting is optional for persons ages 6 to 14 and not applicable for children age 5 and below. Employment-related passes and passes for family members of work pass holders are issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), while student's passes and other long-term visit passes are issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
In addition to its use as identification and proof of immigration status in Singapore, the Long Term Pass card also serves to facilitate travel to Singapore and acts as a visa for visa nationals. The Long Term Pass card is issued with a date of expiry, conditional on the card holder holding a valid passport.
Foreigners holding long-term passes are uniquely identified by a "Foreign Identification Number" (FIN) which is similar in format to the NRIC number. The FIN is transferable between pass types and remains valid for life, until the foreigner attains Singapore citizenship or permanent residency and obtains an NRIC number.
The front side of the Long Term Pass card differs by pass type.
Non-work passes issued by ICA and MOM are similar in design to the NRIC, except they are green in colour and use the FIN instead of the NRIC number, and contain the holder's photograph, name, date of birth, sex and nationality.
Work passes issued by MOM have the MOM logo, type of work pass and the words "Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (Chapter 91A) Republic of Singapore" across the top of the card, and contain the following information:
- The holder's photograph
- Employer/company (absent on Work Permit for domestic workers, Personalised Employment Pass and Work Holiday Pass)
- Work Permit No./S Pass No. and sector (for Work Permit and S Pass holders), or FIN (for other work passes)
- Barcode of Work Permit No./S Pass No./FIN with date of issue
The rear side of the Long Term Pass card contains the following information:
- Type of immigration pass issued under the Immigration Regulations ("Student's Pass" for Student's Pass holders, "Dependant's Pass" for Dependant's Pass holders, "Visit Pass" for work pass holders and Long-Term Visit Pass holders).
- Personal information:
- Non-work passes: thumbprint and FIN
- Work passes: name, thumbprint, FIN, date of birth, sex and nationality
- Pass validity information:
- ICA-issued passes: the date of issue and date of expiry are printed on the card
- MOM-issued passes: instead of printed dates, cards issued from 15 September 2017 onward contain a QR code, which returns pass validity information from the MOM database when scanned by the SGWorkPass app developed by MOM.
- Barcode of FIN with date of issue and (for ICA-issued passes) abbreviation of pass type
- (for visa nationals only) "MULTIPLE-JOURNEY VISA ISSUED" endorsement.
ICA-issued passes are also printed with an instruction to surrender the card upon cancellation or expiration (for Student's Pass holders, within 7 days of cessation of studies), or when a new card is issued to the holder. The instruction is omitted from MOM-issued passes following the implementation of the QR code status check.
Structure of the NRIC number/FIN
The structure of the NRIC number/FIN is @xxxxxxx#, where:
- @ 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 1 January 2000 are assigned the letter "S".
Singapore citizens and permanent residents born on or after 1 January 2000 are assigned the letter "T".
Foreigners issued with long-term passes before 1 January 2000 are assigned the letter "F".
Foreigners issued with long-term passes on or after 1 January 2000 are assigned the letter "G".
Before 1 January 2000, it was commonly thought that "S" stood 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 or registered in the 1900s (1900–1999), "T" is the 20th letter of the alphabet, denoting that the person was born in the years 2000 to 2099.
- xxxxxxx is a 7-digit serial number assigned to the document holder.
Singapore citizens and permanent residents born on or after 1 January 1968 are issued NRIC numbers starting with their year of birth, e.g. S71xxxxx# for a person born in 1971 and T02xxxxx# for a person born in 2002. For those born in Singapore, these numbers are identical to the birth registration number on their birth certificates, which are automatically transferred to the NRIC at age 15 and above.
For Singapore citizens and permanent residents born on or before 31 December 1967, the NRIC numbers commonly begin with 0 or 1, which do not relate to year of birth but are assigned in order of issuance. Non-native residents born before 1968 are assigned the heading numbers 2 or 3 upon attaining permanent residency or citizenship.
FINs for foreigners holding long-term passes are randomly assigned and do not relate to the holder's year of birth or year of issuance in any way.
- # is the checksum letter calculated with respect to @ and xxxxxxx.
The algorithm to calculate the checksum of the NRIC is not publicly available; as of 1999, the Ministry of Home Affairs has only sold the algorithm to Singapore-based organisations demonstrating a "legitimate need" for it. That said, the checksum algorithms for the NRIC (S- and T-series) and the FIN have been easily reverse-engineered.
The first seven NRIC numbers were issued to the following notable people:
- S0000001I (Yusof bin Ishak, first President of Singapore, deceased November 1970)
- S0000002G (first Chief Justice of Singapore Wee Chong Jin, deceased June 2005)
- S0000003E (first Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, deceased March 2015)
- S0000004C (Kwa Geok Choo, wife of Lee Kuan Yew, deceased October 2010)
- S0000005A (first Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Toh Chin Chye, deceased February 2012)
- S0000006Z (second Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Keng Swee, deceased May 2010)
- S0000007H (first Minister for Culture S Rajaratnam, deceased February 2006)
Offences and penalties
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 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.
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 in Singapore's Armed Forces, police force and civil defence force. Notwithstanding this, if no identification can be produced the police may detain suspicious individuals until such identification can be produced 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 it for an entry pass. There is no legal 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. From 1 September 2019, organisations can no longer request and store NRIC numbers for such purposes, unless mandated by various laws.
NRIC being accepted as a travel document other countries may be limited by the countries' laws and regulations. Albania is, if not the only, one of the few countries which accepts the usages of NRIC as a travel document for entry into the nation for a stay of up to 90 days within 180 days. Montserrat also accepts NRIC for stay no longer than 14 days.
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. 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. Tighter privacy advice to stop indiscriminate collection and storage of NRIC numbers was issued in September 2018 by the Personal Data Protection Commission. It also encouraged organisations to develop alternative methods to identify and verify individuals.
- Section 5, National Registration Act, Cap. 201
- Section 3, National Registration Regulations, Cap. 201, RG 2
- National Registration Act (Cap. 201)
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