What Countries in the World Use National ID Cards?


While debate in the US is still out for a national ID card, many other countries around the world already use them. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a broad coalition of citizen watchdog organizations opposes having a national ID card. On April 13, 2010, they collectively sent a letter to the White House and select Senate committees expressing opposition to the proposal made by Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham to legislate a biometric national ID card.


  • Belgium introduced their National ID Card in 2004 with plans to include all citizens by 2012. ID cards issued after 2012 will include biometric data such as fingerprints designed to enhance card security by preventing forgeries. Children are not required to have IDs.


  • Swedish citizens have had a National ID Card in place since October 1, 2005. The ID program was seen as a way to streamline travel to other parts of Europe without having to carry a passport. Swedes also use their National IDs in their own country as proof of citizenship.


  • Macau, the former Portuguese colony and now a Special Autonomous Region of China, has National ID cards for all Macau citizens. Forgery-proof electronic smart cards, developed by Bell ID, were issued to the 540,000 qualifying residents of Macau. In addition to serving as a photo ID, the cards also have the capability to provide carriers with future secure access to electronic government services.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia has had National Identity Cards in use since May 4, 2004. It was at this time that Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, also the Interior Minister, authorized its use for citizens. The card offered a high resolution color photograph. As of April 2010, new cards contain GPS chips, fingerprints and embedded and coded security features designed to thwart forgers.


  • National ID cards are used in Kenya. According to the Registration of Persons Act, all Kenyan citizens who are 18 years or older need to present themselves before a registrar of the court to begin the process, which includes taking a photograph and getting fingerprints. Documentation pertaining to birth records and domicile location should be from the citizen’s home district as it’s the best way for authorities to ascertain authenticity. Registrars are authorized to ask naturalized citizens for additional documentation when forgery is suspected.


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