The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity

Civil Registration Centre for Development, The Hague and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg

How can a comprehensive population register contribute to civil registration and the lives of individuals?

Norway has a long experience with civil registration and vital statistics. Registration of births, deaths and marriages was started by the church almost 300 years ago. A unique personal identification number (PIN) and a central population register (CPR) were established in 1964. The CPR has been an extremely valuable data source for administration, policy making, statistics and research, and has contributed to improving the lives of people living in Norway. A PIN called F number is assigned to all births and new immigrants to Norway who intend to reside for at least 6 months. A special PIN called D number is allocated to non-residents who need a unique identification number. Both numbers consist of eleven digits including date of birth, gender and two control digits. The system will run out of digits in in 2029 (D numbers) and 2014 (F numbers), which makes it necessary to redesign the system. There is also a need to protect better against misuse, which have increased in recent years. There are no biometric data in the CPR and no guarantee that a registered person has been given one identification number only. There are also examples of loaning passports to persons with a similar appearance. This facilitates illegal immigration, which is difficult to detect as long as there are no unique biological markers in the passport register (only in the chip in passport). Currently a temporary D number is often allocated to an asylum seeker by a medical doctor because s/he needs treatment, which often leads to duplicate PINs and errors. It has been suggested that there should be a grading of the basis for identity registration in the revised CPR: (1) Unique identity based on biometric information (such as finger prints or photo, stored outside the CPR), (2) a qualified ID check according to national guidelines, or (3) no satisfactory ID control. This will be useful for users of the Register.

Event reference: 
The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity