Russia states that replacement of internal passports with new ID cards would give more than 120 million Russians access to electronic services, Itar-Tass reports. These services might include obtaining certificates and statements from public offices, online registration at the place of residence and electronic voting. After the introduction of electronic ID cards, citizens will be able to complete all of these procedures online instead of standing in queues for hours at public offices.
Nikolai Nikiforov, Russian Minister of Communications and Mass Media, wrote a Twitter post on 3 November regarding the convenience of accessing public services that will come with replacing paper passports.
Nikiforov considers the introduction of electronic ID cards to be the most ambitious project in the electronic government project.
“One hundred twenty-two million legally valid electronic identity cards will be a breakthrough for electronic services, both governmental and business,” he said.
The card will contain information including a citizen’s name, surname, insurance number, tax identification number and an electronic chip. It will be valid for 10 years and will become the only form of identification issued for internal use, Kommersant reports.
Electronic ID cards will decrease possibilities of fraud and corruption in government services. Citizens would be able to request services directly, thus avoiding contact with officials that sometimes result in bribery and favors.
Another potential opportunity of the new ID is usage of the electronic signature, which will allow for signing legal documents online. The card’s inclusion of a citizen’s insurance number and tax identification will reduce state bureaucracy. Currently, citizens have to obtain two separate documents containing this information in addition to the internal passport. Introduction of an electronic ID card will make the two documents redundant.
However, it is still uncertain whether this card should also function as a driving license or external passport suitable for travelling abroad. These alternative options are still being discussed.
Russia is not the first country in the region that decided to introduce electronic ID cards. A similar type of ID card is already being used in Kazakhstan. It is a plastic card that contains a photo, name, surname, patronymic name and birth date.
Since the 1930s, the internal passport has been the primary identity document for Russian citizens residing in the Russian Federation. The internal passport is Russia’s equivalent to a national ID card and is issued at the age of 14. Internal passports are different from citizens’ international passports.