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Pakistan: Smart National Identity Card (SNIC), including content, validity period, purpose, and associated benefits

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 6 November 2013
Citation / Document Symbol PAK104671.E
Related Document(s) Pakistan : information sur la carte d'identité nationale à puce (Smart National Identity Card - SNIC), y compris le contenu, la période de validité, le but et les avantages connexes
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Pakistan: Smart National Identity Card (SNIC), including content, validity period, purpose, and associated benefits, 6 November 2013, PAK104671.E , available at: [accessed 22 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Pakistan's National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA) reports that the SNIC was introduced in Pakistan by NADRA in August 2012 (Pakistan 24 Jan. 2013). Sources report that the SNIC was "rolled out" in October 2012 (The News International 13 Oct. 2012; Pakistan 13 Oct. 2012; 15 Oct. 2012). According to local media sources, as of March 2013, NADRA had issued 627,072 SNICs (Pakistan Today 24 Mar. 2013; The Frontier Post 13 Mar. 2013a). The NADRA website indicates that applications for Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC) are still accepted (Pakistan, n.d.). The News International, a Karachi-based newspaper, cites the Chairman of NADRA as saying that the SNIC will replace the CNIC (24 Mar. 2013).

NADRA reports that the SNIC contains a microchip that stores data, such as biometric data (Pakistan 24 Jan. 2013). In addition, an article on the NADRA website notes that the SNIC also contains the following information: name of the individual, father's name, photograph, address, and date of birth (ibid. 3 Aug. 2013). According to an article published by the Peshawar newspaper the Frontier Post, the Interior Minister of Pakistan said that SNICs included a "smart chip, two pictures on front and one on rear, quick response bar code, tracking ID on rear, security features (Map), etc." (13 Mar. 2013a). An example of the SNIC available on the NADRA website is attached to this Response.

Sources report that NADRA states the SNIC has 36 security features and "should be accepted" at airports as a secondary identification document because it is compliant with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (The News International 13 Oct. 2012; Pakistan 13 Oct. 2012; 15 Oct. 2012). The NADRA website notes that the CNIC only has 16 security features (Pakistan 24 Jan. 2013). Sources indicate that the data on the card is in both English and Urdu (Etechcrunch 20 Dec. 2012; The Nation 14 Apr. 2013).

A SNIC costs 1,500 Pakistani Rupees [approximately C$15 (XE 30 Oct. 2013)] (Pakistan n.d.; The Frontier Post 13 Mar. 2013a; Etechcrunch 20 Dec. 2012). According to Etechcrunch, a "technology and business news and media service" (Etechcrunch n.d.) the SNIC is valid for 10 years (20 Dec. 2012). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Purpose and Benefits

The Chairman of NADRA, quoted in the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), states that "the Smart NIC Card would help the holders of the card access the entitled cash disbursement programmes, financial transactions, branchless banking, health insurance, life insurance and electronic voting" (APP 20 July 2012). According to the NADRA website, "the SNIC ... comes with the provision of accidental death insurance" (18 Dec. 2012). Additionally, NADRA reports that pensioners enrolled with the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution will receive their pension via the SNIC (14 Apr. 2013). The Frontier Post reported that SNICs "may also be accepted in lieu of [CNICs] for opening of accounts/banking transactions and wherever required" (13 Mar. 2013 b). Sources report that the SNIC was introduced to "improve security by making forgery more difficult" ( 15 Oct. 2012; The News International 13 Oct. 2012). The News International cites the NADRA Chairman as saying that the SNIC will be used to disburse "monetary benefits" in relation to "relief operations, international development and humanitarian assistance" (13 Oct. 2013).

3. Children Under 18 Years of Age

According to their website, NADRA will be issuing SNICs for children under the age of 18 (Pakistan 3 Aug. 2013). The website also indicates that the card will be valid until the child turns 18 years of age and that the card

shall incorporate all features of a Smart NIC for citizens including photograph, name, father's name, date of birth and address. Biometrics shall be captured for children over the age of 15 as per the specified accepted age of juvenile biometrics for the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Such Child Smart Card carrying biometric data shall be valid beyond the age of 18 as Smart NICs also. (ibid.)

The SNIC differs from the Child Registration Certificate (CRC), also known as B-Form, currently issued to children under 18 years of age, which is "printed on A4 sized secure paper holding the child's name, gender and date of birth" and does not have a picture (ibid.). The CRC will continue to be issued by NADRA and the SNIC is not mandatory for children (ibid.). The NADRA website indicates that the chip in the SNIC will be capable of holding applications and data from the health, education and social sectors, including vaccination records and academic records as well as polio vaccination registries (ibid.).

Sources reported in September 2013 that NADRA had issued over 1,000 SNICs to children in registered orphanages, free of charge (The Statesman 11 Sept. 2013; National Herald Tribune 4 Sept. 2013). Sources also quoted a NADRA official as noting that the SNIC would give "children without known parentage" identity and citizenship rights in Pakistan in accordance with Section 9 of the NADRA Ordinance of 2000 (The Statesman 11 Sept. 2013; ibid.). The National Herald Tribune cites an official from NADRA as saying that "[e]mpowering socially destitute children with identity was a long-standing initiative of NADRA" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). 20 July 2012. "Nadra to Introduce Smart NICs in the Country." [Accesssed 29 Oct. 2013] 15 October 2012. Stephen Mayhew. "NADRA Introduces Pakistan's New Biometric Smart ID Cards." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

Etechcrunch. 20 December 2012. "National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) Has Launched a New Smart National Identity Card." [Accessed 30 Oct. 2013]

_____. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 30 Oct. 2013]

The Frontier Post [Peshawar]. 13 March 2013a. "NADRA Issues 627,072 SNICs." (Factiva)

_____. 13 March 2013b. "SNIC for Banking Transactions." (Factiva)

The Nation [Lahore]. 14 April 2013. "Nadra launches pension disbursement project." [Accessed 6 Nov. 2013]

National Herald Tribune [Islamabad]. 4 September 2013. "NADRA Issues 1000 Smart Cards to Orphans Free of Cost." (Factiva)

The News International [Karachi]. 24 March 2013. Tariq Malik. "Towards an 'Identity-based Nation'." [Accessed 6 Nov. 2013]

_____. 13 October 2012. "Features of Smart National Identity Cards Highlighted." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

Pakistan. 3 August 2013. National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA). "NADRA All Set to Issue Smart Cards for Children." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

_____. 14 April 2013. National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA). "NADRA Launches Pension Disbursement Scheme." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

_____. 24 January 2013. National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA). "NADRA, State Life Join Hands to Give Insurance Cover to People." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

_____. 18 December 2012. National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA). "NADRA Issues 200,000 SNICs in Four Weeks." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

_____. 13 October 2012. National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA). "NADRA Chief Unveils Smart Identity Cards Design." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

_____. N.d. "CNIC." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

Pakistan Today [Lahore]. 24 March 2013. "627,072 Smart National Identity Cards Issued." (Factiva)

The Statesman [Peshawar]. 11 September 2013. "Smart ID Cards for Orphan Children, Above 1200 Registered with NADRA." (Factiva)

XE. 30 October 2013. "XE Currency Converter." [Accessed 30 Oct. 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto within the time constraints of this Response were unsuccessful.

Internet sites, including: Dawn;; Keesing's Documentchecker; Pakistan - Diplomatic Mission of Pakistan in Canada, Ministry of the Interior; United Nations - Refworld; United States - Department of State.


Pakistan. N.d. National Registration and Database Authority (NADRA). "Launch of Smart National ID Card." [Accessed 29 Oct. 2013]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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