Registration & Coverage

Registration—including who is eligible to enroll, how people are enrolled, and the technology identity proofing process—is a critical component of ID systems. Few projects compare in terms of scale and complexity to a foundational ID system’s initial mass registration. It requires contact with every (or nearly every) person in a country and the collection of sensitive data. Any negative experiences—e.g., long queues, denial of registration, personal data being lost or stolen—can quickly turn public and media sentiment against an ID system and undermine a significant investment. Conversely, a successful mass registration drive can also generate a positive feeling of national mobilization. Likewise, the speed that universal or high coverage can be reached determines when use cases can go live and therefore when the benefits of an ID system are realized or perceived. It is therefore important for countries to take time to carefully and comprehensively plan their initial mass registration. Finally, the sustainability of an ID system also depends on how it continuously enrolls people as they are born in or migrate to the country.

Fundamentally, foundational ID systems should aim for universal access for the entire resident population (and potentially nationals living abroad) and for a user-friendly registration process that allows for quality identity proofing. Implications for registration include the following:

  • Who is eligible to enroll in the system has direct implications for inclusion and the system’s ability to meet goals such as legal identity for all (SDG target 16.9) and the needs of particular use cases (e.g., providing universal health care, KYC for financial account opening or SIM card registration, voting, etc.).

  • Registration strategies—including where, when, and how people apply for an ID—can also create or remove barriers to participation in the ID system, impacting coverage and people’s overall experiences with and trust in the system.

  • Identity proofing will impact the overall accuracy and trustworthiness of the identities (i.e., the potential level of assurance they will provide during authentication), as well as the cost of the system.

This section covers key decisions related to registration and coverage, including:

  • Eligibility. Who can access the ID system, including nationals and non-nationals, and beginning at what age.

  • Registration strategy. The broad approach for data collection for the initial mass registration and continuous registration.

  • Registration operations. The process, staff and equipment for carrying out registration.

  • Identity proofing. How data will be validated and identities deduplicated.

These activities are highly contextual, and practitioners will need to carefully weigh multiple factors when designing registration requirements and processes.