National identity card (Sri Lanka)
|National Identity Card|
|Date first issued||14 September 1972 (first ID card)
28 February 2014 (fully printed and bilingual ID cards)
1 January 2016 (twelve digit ID cards)
|Issued by||Sri Lanka|
|Valid in||Sri Lanka|
|Type of document||Identity card|
|Eligibility requirements||Sri Lankan citizenship, 16 years of age or above|
The National Identity Card (abbreviation: NIC) is the identity document in use in Sri Lanka. It is compulsory for all Sri Lankan citizens who are sixteen years of age and older to have their NICs. NICs are issued from the Department for Registration of Persons. The Registration of Persons Act No.32 of 1968 as amended by Act Nos 28 and 37 of 1971 and Act No.11 of 1981 legislates the issuance and usage of NICs.
The original intention was to issue a book form identity card very much like the driving license of the 1970s because of the need to accommodate the 2"x2" size photos which were the norm at the time. This resulted in limited use of the ID. For example, fishermen could not use it as the book would get wet. It was necessary to make it easy to carry and waterproof while standing up to rough handling.
Mr. T. B. Ekanayake, the first Commissioner of Registration of Persons, contacted Dr. D. B. Nihalsingha, the Director of the Goverenmnet Film Unit, and handed over the responsibility for the design of an easy to carry card. Mr. Gaspe Ratnayake, the artist of the GFU, designed the card, which is the same design even today. For the first time 35mm still film was proposed by Dr. Nihalsingha and the aid of the GDR was sought. The GDR donated 5000 35mm Practika cameras along with 400 foot rolls of 35mm cine film and spare cassettes to load the film. These were issued to studios around the country with instructions as to how to pose the photo. 35mm still photography became the norm with this step and the 2"x2" Roleflex photos receded.
It is compulsory for a bearer to hold the card at all times (apart from the NIC, a driving license, Sri Lankan passport or temporary identification document can be used) and show the cards to police officers conducting regular screening while on patrol, check points for instance. The police may detain suspicious individuals who fail to show any form of legal identification until relevant identification can be produced in person or by proxy. The NIC is also a required document for some government procedures, for commercial transactions such as the opening of a bank account, and for entry to high-security government or private premises by surrendering or exchanging for an entry pass. Failure to produce the card may result in denied access to these premises or denial of goods and services. Most notably it is required to apply for a passport (over 16), driving licence (over 18) and to vote (over 18).
- At the top centre of the card the word "Sri Lanka" is printed in the Sinhalese and Tamil languages.
- The purple number on the right of the Sri Lankan emblem represents the Province from which the application was made. The numbers range from 1-9. The numbering convention
is as follows:
- 1. Western Province
- 2. Central Province
- 3. Southern Province
- 4. Northern Province
- 5. Eastern Province
- 6. North Western Province
- 7. North Central Province
- 8. Province of Uva
- 9. Province of Sabaragamuwa
Alternate identity cards
The Department of Post has been issuing an identity card since the 1940s with a validity of five years. This may be gained in lieu of an NIC if the latter is unable to be issued. This is commonly used by students who have not reached sixteen or by adults who need identity document sooner than an NIC could be issued or to a person an NIC can not be issued to. In certain cases, a driving licence may be used.
Sri Lanka is in the process of developing a Smart Card based RFID NIC 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.