Being a multilingual country, India also has many fluent English speakers. English language is present in local identity documents as well. However, it may be accompanied by one of several official languages.
There are also many more peculiarities you should consider when verifying Indian driver’s licenses and ID cards. This article covers the most significant ones.
The challenges of processing IDs in India
As the world’s seventh-largest country, with an estimated population of 1.44 billion people, India has dozens of domestic identity documents. Interestingly, residents can use specific-purpose documents, like voter cards, as well as regular IDs.
Taking into account this diversity in ID designs and use cases, you need a comprehensive document template database to verify Indian residents as clients successfully. For instance, the Regula library now includes over 800 Indian identity document specimens.
Let’s zoom in to see their distinctive features.
Three valid forms of Indian ID cards
The national ID card in India—the Aadhaar card—comprises a 12-digit unique identity number that can be connected to a person’s bank account, insurance policy, etc. Additionally, the document is broadly used as proof of identity for accessing various services and obtaining social benefits and subsidies.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the card issuing body, has been engaging citizens with the idea of enrolling in the ID since its inception in 2009. The Aadhaar card now has many versions, which are all in circulation. At Regula, we possess about 450 various templates of this card.
Remarkably, a national ID card in India has three valid forms:
Aadhaar Letter—A laminated paper-based document issued by the UIDAI offices after online or on-site enrollment.
e-Aadhaar—A password-protected electronic copy digitally signed by the issuing body. Users can download and self-print this version by submitting their credentials at the authority website.
Aadhaar PVC card—A plastic card including additional security features such as a ghost photo, microprinting, and Guilloche patterns. This form emerged in 2020 and looks more familiar to inspectors from Western countries.
The dataset presented in a national ID card in India considerably varies. Typically, it includes a photo, name, gender, address, and date of birth. This information can be encoded in a barcode or QR code with additional data like a phone number. The document may also contain the name of one of the holder’s relatives—father, mother, guardian, or husband.
The IDV solution you use for processing should verify all this information. For instance, Regula Document Reader SDK can read the demographic data that is stored in the QR and barcode (name, gender, photo, email, mobile phone, address, etc.) and conduct cross-checks with the information from the visual inspection zone. Additionally, there is a UIDAI digital signature in the secure QR code in an e-Aadhaar and Aadhaar letter that helps to verify the information’s validity.
To add complexity to the verification process, Indian identity documents are issued in both English and the official language of the region where the cardholder resides. For instance, you may see a combination of English/Marathi in documents of Maharashtra residents—one of the 28 Indian states, with Mumbai as the capital city.
The complete language list includes Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Konkani, Marathi, Assamese, and Nepali. Based on non-Latin alphabets, they are also from several language families: Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai, etc.
Therefore, to verify these bilingual documents, your IDV solution should be a true polyglot. Since there are no standard transliteration rules for the languages of India, the check result can be delivered in English or a particular national language.
A small number of Indian IDs are English-only, though. Aadhaar cards can be an example.
The diversity of identity document templates
Despite being a republic, India shows features of a federation when it comes to issuing identity documents. For example, each Indian state has its own version of a driver’s license.
Besides their distinct design, Indian driver’s licenses may have additional data fields, such as blood group. The standard dataset includes the holder’s name, photo, date of birth, address, signature, and, specifically for India, the “son/daughter/wife of” line where the name of a close relative appears. Usually, all information is presented in English.
The date of expiry is a mandatory field. However, the validity of the license varies depending on the holder’s age. A regular driver’s license is valid for 20 years from the date of issue, or until the bearer turns 40 years old, whichever comes sooner. Older individuals can obtain a 10-year valid document and then, a 5-year valid license only.
Voter photo identity cards issued by the Election Commission of India for all citizens 18 years of age or older also demonstrate a broad diversity. First, the documents are bilingual. Second, they may or may not contain the name of the holder’s father, mother, or husband. Third, Indian voter ID cards don't have a date of expiry. Usually, the bearers renew them when they move to another state. As a result, there are many versions of cards in circulation.
This is also true for Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards used by Indian citizens who pay taxes. These cards include a 10-digit unique number, photo, and personal data of the holder. Since there is no bearer's address in the document, PAN cards are valid for a lifetime. This means you may see many variations of this ID in your systems.
Given this diversity, it is impossible to keep in mind all Indian documents with their rich set of distinctive features. Therefore, a detailed document template database is a must when processing Indian identity documents.
How to effectively process Indian documents
On the one hand, Indian identity documents don’t contain any peculiarities associated with security features.
However, there is plenty of room for challenges of a different kind. Primarily, the neural networks under the hood of your IDV solution must be trained to read and verify an extensive collection of languages common to India.
Also, you need a comprehensive document template library comprising many versions of Indian ID cards, driver’s licenses, voter IDs, etc.
Finally, some identity documents submitted by Indian individuals may be self-printed. They can also be laminated paper cards. In remote scenarios, you should ensure your OCR engine can deal with possible glare on the document’s surface. Otherwise, it will be hard to maintain a low retake rate in your applications.
If you have any specific questions on processing Indian identity documents with Regula’s solutions, including online document verification in India, don’t hesitate to contact us.