A national identification number, national identity number, or national insurance number is used by the governments of many countries as a means of tracking their citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents for the purposes of work, taxation, government benefits, health care, and other governmentally-related functions. The number appears on identity documents issued by several countries.
Many countries issued such numbers for a singular purpose, but over time, they become a de facto national identification number. For example, the United States developed its Social Security number (SSN) system as a means of organizing disbursing of Social Security benefits. However, due to function creep, the number has become used for other purposes to the point where it is almost essential to have one to, among other things, open a bank account, obtain a credit card, or drive a car.
Although some countries are required to collect Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) information for overseas payment procedures, some countries, like the US, are not required to collect other nations’ TIN if other requirements are met, such as date of birth. Authorities use databases and they need a unique identifier so that data actually refer to the searched person. In countries where there is no established nationwide number, authorities need to create their own number for each person, though there is a risk of mismatching people.
In the Republic of South Africa every citizen must apply for an Identity Document from the age of 16 years. The ID number is already allocated at the time the birth certificate is generated and required for child passport applications. This passport-size document contains only 8 pages – the first page containing the national identification number name of bearer, district or country of birth, as well as a photograph of the bearer.