Sri Lanka: Identity documents, including biometric passports, National Identity Cards (NICs), birth certificates, and driver's licences; requirements and procedures to obtain such documents; appearance and security features (2016-July 2020) [Sri Lanka: Identity documents, including biometric passports, National Identity Cards (NICs), birth certificates, and driver's licences; requirements and procedures to obtain such documents; appearance and security features (2016-July 2020) [LKA200299.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

A 2019 digital identity country report, based on desk research and 40 interviews with representatives of the government, civil society and the private sector, including mobile network operators and experts in identity, by the GSM Association (GSMA), an organization that represents the interests of mobile operators around the world, notes that Sri Lanka has a "robust foundational" identity system with "strong" levels of birth registration and "extensive coverage" of NICs (GSMA 2019, 3, 22). According to Australia's 2019 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) country information report on Sri Lanka, the NIC is the main identity document in Sri Lanka; however, birth certificates, driver's licenses, and passports are also often used (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.58).

According to the DFAT report, many people who were affected by the conflict in Sri Lanka and people in eastern Sri Lanka who were affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami are missing identity documents (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.51). A March 2019 UNDP press release reports that, in 2016, the Sri Lankan government adopted the National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-Affected Displacement, which was launched "recently" (UN 15 Mar. 2019). The policy provides the following on the replacement of identity documents for individuals affected by the conflict:

5.3 The State shall facilitate the provision or replacement of key documents, such as those pertaining to identity, birth, marriage, death, land and property. All displaced, refugee returnee and displacement-affected persons shall enjoy access to legal information and free legal assistance where necessary with respect to the re/issuance of the above. (Sri Lanka 2016a, Sec. V)

According to the DFAT report, "[p]eople who reside in rural locations report that the requirement to travel to major townships to obtain identity documentation is prohibitive" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.63). The same report further states that, "[i]n the north and east, documentation processes can be delayed due to the lack of Tamil-speaking officials" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.63). According to the GSMA report, experts who were consulted for the report indicated that there are two groups who might not have access to NICs: tea estate workers, who work and reside on plantations, and war widows (GSMA 2019, 3). A 2017 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues on her mission to Sri Lanka in October 2016 states that many "Plantation Tamils" face challenges "in registering to vote, as well as in obtaining basic documents such as death and marriage certificates and national identity cards" (UN 31 Jan. 2017, para. 55). The same source reports that one of the challenges faced by "Plantation Tamils" is that local authorities primarily speak Sinhala (UN 31 Jan. 2017, para. 55). The GSMA report states that many war widows do not have an NIC because they have "a lack of understanding around how to renew or reclaim an NIC" and that this problem is exacerbated by many war widows not having the documentation necessary to apply for a replacement NIC because their homes were destroyed during the war (GSMA 2019, 8-9). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

1.1 Fraudulent Documents

According to the DFAT report, "document fraud is common in Sri Lanka" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.71). The DFAT report notes that fraudulent secondary identity documents, including birth certificates and NICs, can be used to acquire authentic identity documents (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.69). The same source states that "[a]ttempts to use fraudulent documents are common and DFAT is aware of fraudulent sponsor letters and employment letters being presented by asylum seekers" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.70). The Trafficking in Persons Report 2020 by the US Department of State indicates that, in Sri Lanka, "[s]ub-agents collude with officials to procure fake or falsified travel documents to facilitate travel of Sri Lankans abroad" (US June 2020, 464).

A 2019 article by News First, a Sri Lankan news organization that provides news in Sinhala, English, and Tamil (News First n.d.), indicates that, according to the Registrar General of the Registrar General's Department, one out of five birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates, and 40 to 50 percent of land deeds in Sri Lanka are forged (News First 17 Mar. 2019). A 2019 article by Hiru News, a Sri Lankan news organization owned by the Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) (ABC n.d.), notes that, according to the Registrar General's Department, almost 18 percent of birth certificates were forged (Hiru News 15 June 2019).

Sources report the following incidents involving forged documents:

  • In August 2019, police in Hingurakgoda arrested a suspect for forgery and seized counterfeit identity documents, including driver's licenses, marriage certificates, medical certificates, police certificates, and Grama Niladari [or Niladhari (village officer)] certificates (News First 16 Aug. 2019);
  • In March 2019, the Special Task Force (STF) arrested a suspect in Rajagiriya for forgery of driver's licenses and seized 52 forged licenses (The Sunday Times 20 Mar. 2019);
  • In March 2019, the STF arrested a suspect in Ja-Ela for operating a forged document centre, seizing more than 50 rubber stamps and numerous forged documents (The Sunday Times 18 Mar. 2019; Daily News 18 Mar. 2019); and
  • In August 2017, the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) arrested two suspects in Ragama for running a fake kachcheri [District Secretariat] and seized forged driver's licenses and identity cards (The Sunday Times 25 Aug. 2017).

2. Biometric Passport
2.1 Issuance Authority and Types of Passports

The Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration is the government authority responsible for issuing travel documents and passports to Sri Lankan citizens (Sri Lanka n.d.a; Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.65). On its website, the Department states that Sri Lanka offers three categories of passports: ordinary passports, diplomatic passports, and official passports (Sri Lanka n.d.b). On 10 August 2015, the Government of Sri Lanka began collecting biometric data for passport applicants in Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka n.d.c). The website of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa indicates that, from 1 January 2018, applicants between the ages of 16 and 60 years old applying for passports at Sri Lankan missions abroad must provide biometric data upon arrival in Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka n.d.d).

2.2 Procedure for Obtaining a Biometric Passport
2.2.1 Procedure for Obtaining a Biometric Passport Within Sri Lanka

The website of the Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka indicates that, in order to obtain an ordinary passport or a new one, an individual must submit a completed application form, which is available on the website or at the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo, at the regional offices in Kandy, Matara, Vavuniya, and Kurunegala, or at a local divisional secretariat (Sri Lanka n.d.b). The following documents should be submitted with the application form to either the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo or one of the regional offices in Kandy, Matara, Vavuniya, and Kurunegala:

  • Current passport with a photocopy of the biographical data page, if the applicant already has a passport;
  • Photo studio acknowledgement;
  • Original birth certificate with a photocopy;
  • Original NIC of the applicant with a photocopy;
  • Marriage certificate with a photocopy (if it is necessary to confirm the name after marriage);
  • Professional certificate and "an acceptable document to confirm [the applicant's] service" with photocopies; and
  • Buddhist priests must submit the Samanera certificate or higher ordination certificate along with photocopies (Sri Lanka n.d.b).

All applicants must submit their applications in person to the head office of the Department or the regional offices in order to be fingerprinted (Sri Lanka n.d.c). Applicants between 16 and 60 years of age must provide their fingerprints (Sri Lanka n.d.c). The Department's website also states that it has adopted the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for passport photographs, that printed photographs will not be accepted, and that photographs must be taken at studios established at the head office and regional offices or at an authorized studio, listed on the website, which will submit a digital photo to the Department (Sri Lanka n.d.c).

The processing times and fees for a passport application on a "normal basis" (14 working days) are 3,500 Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) [C$26] and the fee for processing on an "urgent basis" (same day) is 15,000 LKR [C$110] (Sri Lanka n.d.b).

The same source indicates that, in a case of a lost passport, the original and photocopies of the following documents must be submitted to obtain a new one:

  • Original of the complaint made to the police including the lost passport number. If the lost passport number is not available, [the applicant] can obtain it from the Colombo Head Office or a regional office;
  • If the passport was lost abroad, the temporary travel document (Non-Machine Readable Passport, NMRP) used to arrive in Sri Lanka;
  • A fine of 11,500 LKR [C$82] in addition to the passport fee (this fine is charged only if the relevant validity period of the passport has not lapsed) (Sri Lanka n.d.b).

According to the same source, inclusion of a minor (less than 16 years old) on a parent's passport "will n[o] longer be allowed" (Sri Lanka n.d.b). In order to obtain a passport for a minor, the "mother and father or the legal guardian of the applicant should accompany him/her when the applicant comes to the application accepting office to submit the application. A letter of consent from a parent or the legal guardian should be attached to the application" (Sri Lanka n.d.b). The following documents must also be submitted:

Birth certificate of the applicant with a photocopy.

Photo studio acknowledgement[.]

Parent's [p]assport (with photocopies of data page & child page).

If parents do not have passports [they must] submit the National Identity Card. (Sri Lanka n.d.b)

The same source adds the following documents are required in some circumstances:

If parent(s) of the applicant do not possess a valid Sri Lankan passport, an affidavit confirming that fact and the[ir] National Identity Card.

If parent(s) of the applicant are dead, [d]eath [c]ertificate(s), [l]egal [g]uardian's [i]dentification [d]ocument, [g]uardian's consent letter and a report from [the] Grama Niladhari attested by the Divisional Secretary.

If one or both parents are abroad, the consent letter and the passport copies of parents should be certified by the relevant Sri Lankan [m]ission. If both parents are abroad, acceptable authorization letter given by the parents to the legal guardian should be certified [by] the relevant Sri Lankan [m]ission.

If the parents are divorced, [d]ivorce [c]ertificate and the court order stating the right to the custody of the child/children. (Sri Lanka n.d.b)

The fees for a minor passport valid for three years are 2,500 LKR [C$18] on a normal basis and 7,500 LKR [C$54] on an urgent basis, while the fees for a minor passport valid for ten years are 3,500 LKR on a normal basis and 15,000 LKR on an urgent basis (Sri Lanka n.d.b).

2.2.2 Procedures for Obtaining a Biometric Passport from Abroad

According to the website of the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration,

[a] Sri Lankan citizen can apply for a new passport or passport renewal, while he is in another country, through the Sri Lankan mission in that country or in the nearest country (where a Sri Lankan mission is not available in the resident country). These applications are processed by the Overseas Mission Branch at Immigration Head Office. (Sri Lanka n.d.e)

The Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Toronto's website indicates that Sri Lankan missions abroad only have the authority to issue temporary travel documents or to make amendments to existing travel documents (Sri Lanka n.d.f).

The website of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa indicates that, in order to apply for a new passport or replace a lost one, an individual must submit to the high commission a completed application form available on the website, and the following documents in person or by post:

  • Current passport and photocopies of the data page and alteration page;
  • If the passport is lost, the applicant should submit a police report and a form [which is available on the website of the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Toronto];
  • Original birth certificate(s) with a photocopy (if the applicant was born in Sri Lanka);
  • Original citizenship certificate (if the applicant was born outside Sri Lanka);
  • Original marriage certificate and photocopy (only in the case of name change after marriage);
  • If the spouse wishes to keep her married name in the new passport after divorce, she must submit the original court order with a photocopy;
  • Original NIC, if available, or photocopy (if the applicant is over 16 years old). If the NIC is not available or is lost, a self-explanatory letter is required;
  • Original or copy of proof of status in Canada (Permanent Resident Card, visa or work permit);
  • If the applicant is a dual citizen, they must submit an original dual citizenship certificate and a photocopy, as well as a copy of the data page of the foreign passport;
  • If the applicant wants to include their profession, occupation, or student status, they must submit a professional or educational certificate with photocopies, a service letter, signed by an authorized officer, a valid contract document, or an enrolment letter from an educational establishment;
  • Buddhist clergy must submit a Certificate of Higher ordination (Upasampada Sahathikaya), in addition to the Birth Certificate;
  • Three colour photographs (4.5 cm x 3.5 cm) taken during the last three months before the date of submission of the application. The photographs "should be clear with full front face, both ears clearly visible and without spectacles or head dress and must be taken against a light coloured background," and placed in the dedicated boxes on the application form; and
  • If the application is sent by post, the signature of the applicant "should be verified by a [n]otary, [m]edical [p]ractitioner, [s]olicitor or Chief incumbent of a temple, [p]rofessor of a [u]niversity or a person of similar status living in Canada" (Sri Lanka n.d.d).

According to the website of the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Ottawa, applicants between the ages of 16 and 60 must also provide biometric data (fingerprints and digital face image) upon arrival in Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka n.d.d).

According to the High Commission website, under ordinary conditions, the processing time for a new passport is approximately 10 to 12 weeks; however, processing times "may vary" (Sri Lanka n.d.d). The same source indicates that the processing fee for M or N series passport holders is C$280 and that there is a fee of C$16 for the cost of registered post (Sri Lanka n.d.d). The processing fee for L, K, and J series passport holders is C$380 and there is a fee of C$16 for the cost of registered post (Sri Lanka n.d.d). In the case of a lost passport, if a copy is available, the fee is C$380, and if no copy is available, the fee is C$480 (Sri Lanka n.d.d).

The Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Toronto indicates that to obtain a first passport or to replace a lost passport of the M or N series for a minor from abroad, an application and declaration forms, available on their website, must be submitted along with the following documents:

ii. Original Birth Certificate (Translations in place of the original, are not acceptable)

iii. Present Passport (if available)

vi. Citizenship Certificate (if born outside Sri Lanka)

v. Proof of Applicant's status in Canada

(Permanent Resident Card (PR)/Work Permit/Study Permit/Valid Visa/Status Verification Report issued by Canadian Immigration Authorities or a letter from Canadian Immigration Authorities indicating current status)

vi. Parents['] Passports along with copies of the Bio data page, observation and Children's page

vii. Parents' Consent Letter (with authentication of parents' signatures)

viii. Three (3) Passport size photographs (3.5cm x 4.5cm) Colour, white background, matt finish (gloss or semi gloss photographs will not be accepted), face of the photograph should be straight, both ears should be visible, without eye wares and the photographs should be taken within 3 months of the application.

Note: Original documents from iii - vi should be submitted along with photo copies taken on normal letter size papers (8.5x11 inches) on one side.

ix. Fee:

  1. For a Passport valid for 03 year[s]: CAD 170.00
  2. For a Passport valid for 10 years: CAD 280.00

(Cash/Money Order written in favour of the Consulate General of Sri Lanka)

x. Additional Documents:

  1. If, a Dual Citizen, the original Dual Citizenship Certificate and a copy of the foreign passport
  2. If, one parent has died, the death certificate
  3. If, parents are divorced, the court order indicating the legal custody of the child
  4. If, an adopted child, Court order in respect of the adoption of the child. (Sri Lanka n.d.f)

2.3 Passport Appearance and Security Features

Samples of the Sri Lankan passport can be found on the Keesing Technologies Documentchecker website. According to Keesing Technologies, the Sri Lankan passport issued since 2008 is described as having the following general features:

  • Page 2 contains the date of expiry;
  • Passport booklet measures 125 x 88 mm/4.9 x 3.4 in.;
  • Booklet is 64 pages in length; page 2 is not numbered;
  • Page 2 is clear laminate and sewn in;
  • Photograph is integrated with hologram sticker and repeated in the middle in larger size and made up of microprint;
  • Numbering is 7 digits preceded by a letter; and
  • Page 1 is letterpress printed, page 2 is inkjet printed, and page 3 is laser perforated (Keesing Technologies n.d.a).

As of July 2020, the website of the Department of Immigration and Emigration indicates that they are delivering the N-series passports which, unless otherwise is specified, are valid for ten years for people over 16 years of age (Sri Lanka 22 July 2020).

According to Keesing Technologies, the Sri Lankan passport is described as having the following security features:

  • Invisible Personal Information;
  • Iridescent ink;
  • Microprint;
  • Nanoprint; and
  • Hologram (Keesing Technologies n.d.b).

The DFAT report states that "[e]lectronic passports with an electronic chip that includes the bio data of the recipient are planned for 2019" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.65). Similarly, in an article published on its website in 2019, Security Document World (SDW), a "web-based news portal dedicated to providing … information for all those involved in purchasing, designing, manufacturing and integrating security-document and human identity centred solutions" (SDW n.d.), indicates that Sri Lanka planned to initiate an electronic passport (ePassport) in 2019 (SDW 18 Feb. 2019). Further information on the status of electronic passports could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. National Identity Card (NIC)
3.1 Use

According to the GSMA report, "[t]he NIC is required to obtain all forms of functional identity in Sri Lanka, except for a Private Health Number (PHN)" (GSMA 2019, 10). Similarly, the DFAT report notes that "[t]he NIC can be used to acquire all other identity documents" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.58). The same source further indicates that the NIC "is required to access government services, including public health and education services" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.58).

3.2 Procedure for Obtaining an NIC

The DFAT report states that an NIC can only be obtained within Sri Lanka (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.58). Similarly, the Department for Registration of Persons website indicates that persons living abroad cannot obtain an NIC (Sri Lanka n.d.g).The same source states that any Sri Lankan who is 15 years or older can obtain an NIC (Sri Lanka n.d.g). An article published by the Sunday Times, a weekly newspaper in Sri Lanka, reports that in September 2019, Sri Lanka began issuing NICs from the age of 15 instead of 16 to students taking their G.C.E. Ordinary Level examinations (The Sunday Times 1 Aug. 2019). The Registration of Persons (Amendment) Act, No. 8 of 2016 provides the following:

5. Section 2 of the principal enactment is hereby repealed and the following section is substituted therefor:-

2. (1) From the date of commencement of this Act, every person who is a citizen of Sri Lanka and who has attained or attains the age of fifteen years shall be liable to registration under this Act.

(2) A person liable to registration shall, apply for such registration under this Act-

  1. for the purposes of section 6; and
  2. for the issue of a National Identity Card,

within a prescribed period. (Sri Lanka 2016b)

The Department for Registration of Persons website states that "[t]hose who complete 15 years of age after February 27. 1981 and become subject to registration should apply within one year after completing 15 years of age" (Sri Lanka n.d.h).

The DFAT report notes that an "NIC is obtained through one's grama niladhari or the Department for Registration of Persons" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.58, italics in original). The Department for Registration of Persons website indicates that applications to obtain an NIC are available on their website, or from the Grama Niladhari of the Division, the estate superintendent in the case of estate, the principal for students, the head office of the Department for Registration of Persons, the provincial offices of the Department for Registration of Persons, the Divisional Secretariat, and the District Secretariats (Sri Lanka n.d.g). According to the same source, in order to obtain a first NIC, an individual must submit a completed application with photocopies of the following documents certified by the "Grama Niladhari and/or Divisional Secretariat or an officer authorized by him":

  • Birth certificate or the extract of the birth certificate or a probable age certificate with a document to prove the date of birth ("birth certificate of a child/ school leaving certificate/ certificate of leaving the estate/ copy of the testified horoscope/ marriage certificate/ citizenship certificate/ original of the affidavit");
  • Citizenship certificate (Sri Lanka n.d.h).

The Department for Registration of Persons website indicates that applications can be handed over to the Grama Niladhari of the area where the applicant is living, the superintendent of the estate where the applicant is living, or, in the case of students the principal of their school, and that certified applications can be handed over to the head office of the Department for Registration of Persons or its provincial offices (Sri Lanka n.d.g).

According to a 2017 article by the Sri Lanka Mirror, a Sri Lankan bilingual news website (Sri Lanka Mirror n.d.), the Department of Registration of Persons began issuing NICs without requiring a birth certificate, offering a new application for individuals without a birth certificate who need to submit a sworn affidavit and the "details of three nearest relatives who already have NICs" (Sri Lanka Mirror 18 Dec. 2017). The Department for Registration of Persons website indicates that persons over the age of 40 who do not have a birth certificate or probable age certificate can present the following documents to prove their date of birth:

  • Results of search registers issued by the Additional District Registrar
  • [W]ritten evidence to prove the name and date of birth. (Birth certificate of a child/ school leaving certificate/ certificate of leaving the estate/ copy of the testified horoscope/ marriage certificate/ senior citizens identity card)
  • Original of formal affidavit to prove the name, date of birth and place of birth [the form can be found on the department's website]. (Sri Lanka n.d.h)

According the same source, applicants must also submit the following:

Documents to prove employment

  • Public sector – original of the service certificate obtained during the last six months.
  • Priv[ate] sector – original of the service certificate obtained during the last six months.
  • Degree certificate and the professional certificate for the positions of doctors, engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants and architects.
  • Retirement letter/ Pension card to include retired position.
  • Business registration certificate for business persons.

Other document[s] required to issue identity cards

  • Samanera certificate or Upasampada certificate for a Buddhist priest[.]
  • A certificate issued by the relevant Department to prove the clergyship of other religions.
  • Certificate of renouncement of clergyship (de-robing) from the relevant Department[.]
  • Marriage certificate to include the surname of the husband.
  • Citizenship certificate issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration to prove that the applicant has obtained Sri Lankan citizenship in the case of a person born abroad to a Sri Lankan mother or father. …
  • Dual citizenship certificate, if the applicant holds dual citizenship[.]
  • 3 colour photographs …
  • Certification of the application
    • Grama Niladhari (Countersigning by District Secretariat is compulsory)[.]
    • For students, the principal of the school.
    • For estate residents, the superintendent of the estate. (Sri Lanka n.d.h, bold in original)

The Department for the Registration of Persons indicates that photographs must be taken following the standards of the Registration of Persons (Amendment) Regulations 2015, in effect since 1 September 2017, by a registered photographer listed on the website (Sri Lanka n.d.m).

The same source states that, for "ordinary service," a completed application form can be submitted to the certifying officer and that, for "one day service," a completed application form can be submitted to the One Day Service Branch of the Department for Registration of Persons, in Colombo and that there is stamp fee of 3 LKR [C$0.02] (Sri Lanka n.d.h). However, according to an article by News First, since September 2018, the fees have increased to 100 LKR [C$0.70] for a first application and 500 LKR [C$3.60] to replace a lost NIC (News First 1 Sept. 2018).

According to the Department for the Registration of Persons, in order to obtain a duplicate for a lost NIC, applicants whose NIC was issued after 1 September 2014 do not have to submit a birth certificate if there is no change needed; they can submit evidence if they wish to add their employment information (Sri Lanka n.d.n). Applicants whose NIC was issued before 1 September 2014 have to submit the application form with the same documents and pay the same fee as for a first NIC (Sri Lanka n.d.n).

3.3 NIC Appearance and Security Features

According to the website of the Department for the Registration of Persons, the first NICs were issued in 1972, and information about the card holder and the number on the card were handwritten on paper cards with a black and white photo attached, which were then laminated (Sri Lanka n.d.i). According to the same source, the handwritten NICs of Tamil and Muslim individuals were written in Sinhala and Tamil, and the NICs of other applicants were written in Sinhala (Sri Lanka n.d.i). In 1978, type-written cards began to be issued (Sri Lanka n.d.i). In 2005, colour photographs replaced the black and white photos (Sri Lanka n.d.i). In 2014, the manual paper system was replaced with printing of identity cards and, also starting in 2014, all identity cards were issued in Sinhala and Tamil (Sri Lanka n.d.i). A sample from the Department for the Registration of Persons of the computer-printed NIC is attached to this Response (Attachment 1).

DFAT states the following about NIC numbers:

Each NIC contains a unique number determined by a mathematical formula. NICs issued before 1 January 2016 contain nine digits and one letter (either 'V' or 'X'), in the format 000000000A (where 0 is a digit and A is a letter). The first two digits denote the cardholder's year of birth (e.g. 91xxxxxxx for someone born in 1991). The next three digits denote the number of days in the year of the cardholder's birth. For females, 500 is added to the number of days. The next three digits are the serial number. The next and final digit is a check digit. The letter 'V' stands for voter, indicating the cardholder is eligible to vote. The letter 'X' indicates the cardholder is ineligible to vote … (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.60)

The website of the Department for Registration of Persons indicates that, since 2016, the English letter at the end of the identity card number was removed and "the number is amended to appear in 12 digits" (Sri Lanka n.d.j). The Department further states that "[t]he new identity card with new number will carry the old identity card number on its reverse" (Sri Lanka n.d.j). According to the DFAT report, "[a]ll NICs issued since 1972 remain functional, irrespective of the introduction of the new numbering format" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.61). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to DFAT, "NICs have traditionally had few security features and several cases in recent years have involved fraudulent NICs, including through the replacement of photographs" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.59).

3.4 Electronic NIC (eNIC)

Sources report that, in 2017, the Department for Registration of Persons began issuing smart identity cards (Daily Mirror 4 Apr. 2017; The Sunday Times 27 Oct. 2017; Sri Lanka [2018], 5). A sample from the Department for Registration of Persons of the e-NIC is attached to this Response (Attachment 2). According to a 2018 performance report by the Department for Registration of Persons, the smart cards are laser printed in Sinhala, Tamil, and English (Sri Lanka [2018], 5). The same source notes that in October 2018, the Department of Registration of Persons began using ICAO standard photographs on the new NICs (Sri Lanka [2018], 5). According to the Sunday Times, the new smart NICs are only issued to new applicants and older versions of NICs are still valid (The Sunday Times 27 Oct. 2017). Similarly, ReadMe, a Sri Lankan technology news website (ReadMe n.d.), states that "[s]o far, the issuance of the eNICs has been limited to those obtaining their NIC for the first time, or those who are renewing their NICs" (ReadMe 23 May 2020). Sources report that the eNICs include a machine-readable barcode and store biometric data (ReadMe 23 May 2020; GSMA 2019, 7). The Daily Mirror, a daily English-language newspaper published in Sri Lanka, reports that "[t]he new Electronic ID, comprising security features against tampering, counterfeiting and forgery, will include the person's photograph, bio data, fingerprints, and also the blood group" (Daily Mirror 4 Apr. 2017). According to DFAT, "[t]he Sri Lankan Government is in the process of establishing an electronic central database using biometric data to replace existing NICs with electronic NICs" (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.59).

4. Birth Certificates
4.1 Procedures for Obtaining a Birth Certificate

The 1954 Birth and Deaths Registration Act provides the following:

15. Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of section 20, the father or mother of every child born alive, and in case the parents of the child are unable to provide the information relating to the birth hereinafter specified by reason of their death, illness, absence or other inability recognized by the Registrar-General, the occupier of the house or building in which the child was born, each person present at the birth and the person having charge of the child shall, within forty-two days of the date of the birth, give information of such of the particulars relating to the birth required under this Act to be registered as the informant possesses, to the appropriate registrar, sign the register of births in the appropriate place in the presence of the registrar. This section shall apply to a birth which has occurred not earlier than forty-two days before the appointed date in like manner as it applies to a birth occurring on or after that date. (Sri Lanka 1954)

According to the website of the Registrar General's Department, in order to register a birth that occurred at a hospital, a duly perfected declaration and a hospital report of the birth need to be submitted (Sri Lanka n.d.k). In order to register a birth that occurred at home, the Grama Niladari should be informed within 7 days of the birth, then the Grama Niladari will forward the report of the birth to the registrar in the area (Sri Lanka n.d.k). Births can be registered for free within the first three months after the birth and a birth certificate is issued free of charge (Sri Lanka n.d.k). In order to register a birth that occurred on a registered estate, the estate superintendent should be informed within seven days of the birth, and will certify the application and forward it to the Divisional Secretariat through the district medical officer, then the birth will be registered by the district registrar, and the superintendent can deliver a certificate of birth free of charge (Sri Lanka n.d.k).

The DFAT report indicates that copies of the birth certificate can be acquired from the Divisional Secretariat in the region where the certificate was initially issued (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 5.52). According to the website of the Registrar General's Department, application forms to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate are available on their website and at Divisional Secretariats (Sri Lanka n.d.k). The application should be submitted to the Divisional Secretariat where the birth happened, along with the fees of 100 LKR if the date of registration or the number of entry is available, or 200 LKR [C$1.45] if "the date of registration or the no. of the entry is not given and a search of registers not exceeding two years is involved" (Sri Lanka n.d.k). The copy of the birth certificate can be sent by post if a stamped envelope is submitted with the application (Sri Lanka n.d.k).

4.2 Appearance and Security Features

According to the GSMA report, while births are now documented digitally, birth certificates are still analogue and many are misplaced or damaged (GSMA 2019, 3). In February 2019, News First reported that the Registrar General's Department stated that, in April 2019, it would begin issuing birth certificates in all three languages (Sinhala, Tamil, and English) and that the new birth certificates would include additional security features, for example a QR code, a barcode, and a watermark (News First 19 Feb. 2019). Similarly, in March 2019, Daily News, an English-language newspaper in Sri Lanka, reports that trilingual birth certificates would now be issued and that "[t]he certificate would also bear the national emblem so to ensure its originality and that it cannot be duplicated" (Daily News 14 Mar. 2019). The Sunday Times notes that children born after 1 January 2019 would be issued new birth certificates that would include an identification number that would become the future NIC number (The Sunday Times 15 Mar. 2019). According to the same source, the newest birth certificates are bilingual (Tamil and Sinhala) and include security features intended to prevent forgeries including a watermarked national emblem, a seal, and a machine-readable code (The Sunday Times 15 Mar. 2019). Further information on the issuance of such birth certificates could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

5. Driver's License
5.1 Procedure for Obtaining a Driver's License
5.1.1 Procedure for Obtaining a Driver's License Within Sri Lanka

The website of the Department of Motor Traffic indicates that there are two methods for obtaining the new smart card driver's license: online, at the head office and certain district offices; and offline at other district offices (Sri Lanka n.d.l). According to the Department of Motor Traffic, an individual must submit the following documents to a district office, in person:

  • NIC or a valid passport with the NIC number;
  • Two black and white passport-size photos with a white background (if obtaining driver’s license at district offices using the offline method); and
  • Original birth certificate (if obtaining a driver's license for the first time) (Sri Lanka n.d.l).

The same source indicates that to extend the validity period of a driver's license, the following documents must be submitted:

  1. Current driving license.
  2. National Identity Card or a valid passport with the national identity card number.
  3. Medical Fitness certificate obtained from the Sri Lanka National Transport Institute within a period of six months. (Sri Lanka 4 Mar. 2016)

The same source indicates that in order to obtain a duplicate of the driver's license, the applicant must submit the following:

  1. Copy of the complaint lodged at the police within 6 months of the loss of driving license.
  2. National Identity Card or the valid passport with the national identity card number[.]
  3. The distorted/defaced driving license, if available. (Sri Lanka 3 Aug. 2011)

5.1.2 Procedure for Obtaining a Driver’s License from Abroad

According to the website of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, Sri Lankans living abroad can renew or obtain a duplicate of a driver's license (Sri Lanka 19 Sept. 2017). In order to apply to renew a driver's license, in addition to a completed application form available on the website of the High Commission, an individual must submit the following:

  • Current driver's license;
  • Medical certificate from a recognized medical institution in Canada;
  • Valid Sri Lanka passport;
  • NIC (not required if the NIC number is found in the passport);
  • Proof of valid status in Canada;
  • Two black and white passport-size photos with a white background;
  • Money order or bank draft for C$145 plus "late fee charges of CAD 15.00 [are] applicable per each lapsed year";
  • Two pre-paid self-addressed envelopes to return the documents and deliver the driver's license (Sri Lanka 19 Sept. 2017).

In order to apply for a duplicate, in addition to a completed application form available on the website of the High Commission, an individual must submit the same documents as for the renewal, but instead of the current driver's license, the applicant must submit a copy of the complaint made to the nearest police station or the damaged driver's license (Sri Lanka 19 Sept. 2017).

5.2 Driver's License Appearance and Security Features

A sample from the EU's Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO) of the Sri Lanka driver's license is attached to this Response (Attachment 3). In Keesing Technologies's Documentchecker, the Sri Lankan driver's license is described as having the following general features:

  • On the front, clear laminate with hologram sticker, which does not cover the whole card;
  • On the back, clear laminate with a cut-out for the chip;
  • The photo is integrated;
  • Numbering: 1 letter followed by 6 digits;
  • Numbering: "front entry 5, laser engraving";
  • The card contains a contact chip (Keesing Technologies n.d.c).

According to the same source, the Sri Lankan driver's license is described as having the following security features:

  • Optically Variable Ink (OVI);
  • Microprint;
  • Nanoprint;
  • Offset printing;
  • Hologram;
  • Guilloche;
  • Microprint (Keesing Technologies n.d.d).

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.

References

Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Australia. 4 November 2019. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT Country Information Report: Sri Lanka. [Accessed 30 June 2020]

Daily Mirror. 4 April 2017. Chaturanga Pradeep. "Smart IDs Coming by End of June." [Accessed 12 July 2020]

Daily News. 18 March 2019. "Bogus Kachcheri Raided in Ja-Ela." [Accessed 14 July 2020]

Daily News. 14 March 2019. Dinuli Francisco and Rukshana Rizwie. "Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates Now One-Day Service." [Accessed 12 July 2020]

GSM Association (GSMA). 2019. Calum Handforth and Matthew Wilson. Digital Identity Country Report: Sri Lanka. [Accessed 30 June 2020]

Hiru News. 15 June 2019. "18 Percent of Birth Certificates Forged." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Keesing Technologies. N.d.a. Keesing Documentchecker. "Sri Lanka – National Passport: General (P7)." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Keesing Technologies. N.d.b. Keesing Documentchecker. "Sri Lanka – National Passport: Security Features (P7)." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Keesing Technologies. N.d.c. Keesing Documentchecker. "Sri Lanka – Driving License: General (RB2)." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Keesing Technologies. N.d.d. Keesing Documentchecker. "Sri Lanka – Driving License: Security Features (RB2)." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

News First. 16 August 2019. "Suspect Arrested for Forging Documents." [Accessed 13 July 2020]

News First. 17 March 2019. "50% of Land Deeds in Sri Lanka Forged – Registrar General." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

News First. 19 February 2019. "Birth Certificates with New Security Measures to Have all Three Languages." [Accessed 13 July 2020]

News First. 1 September 2018. "Charges for Issuing NIC Increased." [Accessed 29 July 2020]

News First. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

ReadMe. 23 May 2020. Asela Waidyalankara. "eNIC in Sri Lanka: Evolution, Revolution, and a Looming Breach?" [Accessed 17 July 2020]

ReadMe. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 17 July 2020]

Security Document World (SDW). 18 February 2019. "Sri Lanka to Launch eID, ePassport." [Accessed 9 July 2020]

Security Document World (SDW). N.d. "About Us/Contact Us." [Accessed 13 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 22 July 2020. Department of Immigration and Emigration. "General Information on Passports." [Accessed 27 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. [2018]. Department for Registration of Persons. Performance Report - 2018. [Accessed 20 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 19 September 2017. Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa. "Issuance of Driving License for Sri Lankans Living Abroad." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 4 March 2016. Department of Motor Traffic. "Renewal of Validity and Extension of Driving License." [Accessed 28 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 2016a. Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs. National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-Affected Displacement. [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 2016b. Registration of Persons (Amendment) Act, No. 8 of 2016. [Accessed 13 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 3 August 2011. Department of Motor Traffic. "Duplicate Driving License and Change of Particulars." [Accessed 28 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. 1954 (amended 2005). Births and Deaths Registration Act. [Accessed 13 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.a. Department of Immigration and Emigration. "About Us." [Accessed 7 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.b. Department of Immigration and Emigration. "Issue of Passports." [Accessed 7 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.c. Department of Immigration and Emigration. "Acquiring Biometric Data into the Passport System." [Accessed 7 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.d. Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa. "Passports." [Accessed 7 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.e. Department of Immigration and Emigration. "Overseas Applications." [Accessed 7 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.f. Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Toronto. "Issuance of a New Passport." [Accessed 7 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.g. Department for Registration of Persons. "FAQ." [Accessed 9 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.h. Department for Registration of Persons. "First-Timer Application." [Accessed 9 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.i. Department for Registration of Persons. "About Us." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.j. Department for Registration of Persons. "An Amendment to the Number in the National Identity Card from 2016." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.k. Registrar General's Department. "Birth Registration." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.l. Department of Motor Traffic. "New Driving License." [Accessed 8 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.m. Department for Registration of Persons. "New Photograph Specifications to Be Followed from 01.09.2017." [Accessed 27 July 2020]

Sri Lanka. N.d.n. Department for Registration of Persons. "Obtaining a Duplicate of a Lost Identity Card." [Accessed 27 July 2020]

Sri Lanka Mirror. 18 December 2017. "NICs Possible Even Without Birth Certificates." [Accessed 20 July 2020]

Sri Lanka Mirror. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 16 July 2020]

The Sunday Times. 1 August 2019. Damith Wickramasekara. "NIC's to Be Issued to Students from the Age of 15 from Next Month." [Accessed 10 July 2020]

The Sunday Times. 20 March 2019. Damith Wickramasekara. "STF Nab Suspect for Preparing Fake Driving Licenses." [Accessed 14 July 2020]

The Sunday Times. 18 March 2019. "One Suspect Arrested for Preparing Fake Documents in Ja-Ela." [Accessed 14 July 2020]

The Sunday Times. 15 March 2019. "Bi-Lingual Birth Certificates, One-day Service for Land Deeds from Mar 16: Minister Vajira Abeywardena." [Accessed 17 July 2020]

The Sunday Times. 27 October 2017. "Department of Registration of Persons to Issue Smart Identity Cards." [Accessed 12 July 2020]

The Sunday Times. 25 August 2017. "Two Arrested for Running Fake Kachcheri." [Accessed 14 July 2020]

United Nations (UN). 15 March 2019. UN Development Programme (UNDP). "National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-Affected Displacement Launched." [Accessed 24 July 2020]

United Nations (UN). 31 January 2017. Human Rights Council. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues on Her Mission to Sri Lanka. (A/HRC/34/53/Add.3) [Accessed 16 July 2020]

United States (US). June 2020. Department of State. "Sri Lanka (Tier 2)." Trafficking in Persons Report 2020. [Accessed 30 June 2020]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Sri Lanka – Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka, Department of Motor Traffic, Department of Registrar General, Department for Registration of Persons, High Commission Ottawa.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; BiometricUpdate.com; Centre for Policy Alternatives; Denmark – Danish Immigration Service; ecoi.net; The Economist; Edison TD; Factiva; Freedom House; Human Rights Watch; INTERPOL; Minority Rights Group International; Sri Lanka – Embassy in Washington DC, Government Information Centre, Sri Lanka Police, National Police Commission; UK – Home Office; UN – International Organization for Migration Sri Lanka, Refworld; US – Department of State, Embassy in Sri Lanka.

Attachments

  1. Sri Lanka. [2018]. Department for Registration of Persons. "Photograph 4: The Identity Card Issued in Dual Languages on a Computer Based Methodology." Performance Report - 2018. [Accessed 20 July 2020]
  2. Sri Lanka. [2018]. Department for Registration of Persons. "Photograph 6: New National Identity Card in all Three Languages (Smart Card)." Performance Report - 2018. [Accessed 20 July 2020]
  3. European Union (EU). N.d. Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO). "Document: LKA-FO-01001." [Accessed 9 July 2020]