eNational ID Card


Registration of Persons Department (RPD) is responsible for registration of persons in Sri Lanka and the department is mandated by the Act no Act No 32 of 1968 to do so. RPD was created in 1971 to register Sri Lankan citizens and so far the department has registered over 20 million persons and issued National ID cards for that population. The National ID card is regarded as the key identification document by all sections of Sri Lanka for identification and authentication of persons. Since the insurgencies which occurred during last 2-3 decades, the necessity of having a National ID cards for all citizens has been emphasized. Furthermore a recent decision made by the cabinet of ministers has made the national ID card compulsory for casting votes in national level elections.

Current Situation
The current person registration process in brief is as follows.    

  1. All Sri Lankans over the age of 16 are eligible for registration. They need to submit an application to RPD for registration and issuance of National ID card.

  2. In case of school children, the principals of the schools are permitted to issue applications to students over 16 years and certify their applications. Application should be accompanied a copy of the birth certificate and 3 copies of a recent photograph.

  3. Grama Niladharies also issue the application forms either for new registrations or renewals/changes of current registration. The completed applications should be submitted to the Grama Niladharies and Grama Niladharies in turn submit applications to the RPD through Divisional Secretariats.

  4. Once the applications are received by RPD, the data in applications are checked and verified. If all criteria are met, RPD generates a unique ID number which is based on the date of birth and the sex for the applicant and registers the applicant and print an ID card. The current card is a laminated card with low level security features.

  5. RPD creates a paper based case file for individual registration. The case files are stored in a central record room which is housed under the same roof.

  6. The department also prepares a paper based index card which contains registration information and a copy of the photograph.

  7. Once the registration process is completed, the ID card is sent to the applicant through Grama Niladhari or the principal of the school.

  8. RPD also conducts mobile services to register a group of citizens in speedy manner.

Recent developments related to registration of persons   

  1. RPD has initiated a programme to computerize the index cards. Currently 25 computers are used for this process with in-house developed software. An NGO called ‘Plan International’ is assisting this project by providing hardware.

  2. In 2005, Ministry of Public Security has short listed companies to print 3 million new ID cards. The new card is planned to be a plastic card with high security features.

  3. Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs (MPA&HA) and Registrar General’s Department with the assistance of Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has initiated a project to build an e-Population Register which would contain the basic personal information of all members of the population. Furthermore the MPA&HA and ICTA have initiated a process to identify the Citizen Data Architecture which would be used in e-Population register and subsequently be enforced for government ICT systems.

Key Problems / Issues
The main problems related to the National ID Card issuance process can be listed as follows.    

  1. The entire application processing process is carried out manually. The department receives about 5000 applications on each working day but is capable only of issuing around 2000 ID cards per day. Hence, it is estimated that there are around 3 million Sri Lankans above the eligible age limit who are to obtain their National Identity Card. Elections (Special Provisions) Act No. 14 of 2004 necessitates all voters to produce a valid identity document before a ballot paper is delivered to the voter. Therefore this issue bears a national importance to act immediately to produce a valid ID card before the next election.    

  2. Since the security features employed in the current ID card is minimum, the ID cards are easily forged. This has drastically reduced the credibility of the ID card as the main identification document.

  3. Though RPD has registered approximately 20 millions of citizens, all those records are paper based. Hence the RPD is finding it difficult to locate the relevant records in a speedy manner when those records are necessary for various issues.

  4. Various public as well as private sector organizations make regular requests to authenticate the ID cards issued by RPD. Due to the absence of an effective and efficient mechanism to verify the information related to ID cards, it has become a tedious and time consuming activity for the RPD.

  5. Since the records are paper based, there is no proper archiving mechanism and there are no ways to duplicate and store the records to be retrieved in case of a disaster at RPD.

  6. Centralized ID card issuance process imposes the citizens to come to the department for any issue arising from obtaining ID cards.

  7. There is no way to track the status of the application after it had been submitted to the RPD.

Objectives of the Project
The e-National ID project envisages developing an ICT solution for automating the ID application processing procedure, ID card Issuance Procedure, ID card information authentication procedure, Issue new ID cards and building necessary ICT infrastructure implement the proposed ICT solutions. This would be carried out as a turnkey project.

  • Conduct a Government Process Reengineering study and System Study 
  • Develop the ID application processing software, Card issuance software authentication software and provide necessary ICT (hardware and communication) infrastructure
  • Print and Issue ID cards

Scope of the Project  

  1. Study the current ID issuance process and re-engineer the process to support the decentralization and to make those processes efficient and expeditious

  2. Develop required software for automating the activities related to ID card application processing, authentication and printing ID cards 

  3. Procure and install the required hardware and communication equipment   

  4. Capacity building of RPD specially in the area of ICT  

  5. Communicating the process and expected outcomes of the project to the stakeholders and citizens   

  6. Implement a pilot project in 1 district to replace existing ID cards and improve the project, based on the results of the pilot project

  7. Roll out the major project to issue 16 million cards within 3 years

ICTA funded the project up to the System Study and subsequent funding will be borne by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). Tender for the e-National ID project was published on the 24th of February 2008.