Identification for Development (ID4D)


"We acknowledge the scale of the public health crisis arising from deaths and injuries on the roads of developing and emerging countries... and recognize that a systematic, multisectoral response is required to address this global crisis."

- Joint Statement by Seven Development Banks, 2011

From Advocacy to Implementation


That is 1 in every 7 individuals. The majority live in Africa and Asia, and more than a third are under the age of 18.



The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative plays an essential role in helping countries move forward to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.


Photo: UN Women/Fatma Elzahraa Yassin
"Identification provides a foundation for other rights and gives a voice to the voiceless."

- Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa




Without official identification, a person can struggle to access:

  • Financial services, such as opening a bank account or obtaining capital and credit
  • Social benefits, including food vouchers, pensions, or cash transfers
  • Healthcare, such as health insurance, vaccinations, and maternal care
  • Education, such as enrolling children in school or applying for scholarships
  • Political and legal rights, such as voting, filing petitions in courts, owning property, or receiving an inheritance
  • Gender equality, including prevention of early and child marriage
  • Migration, including seeking asylum and crossing borders legally and safely

Collectively, the barriers individuals face in turn create larger barriers for the countries they live in.

Without strong identification systems
, countries can struggle to:

  • Deliver vital services to people
  • Govern effectively 
  • Eliminate duplicative or inefficient programs
  • Make efficient use of limited resources
  • Produce statistics accurately

ID4D helps countries analyze problems, design solutions, and implement new systems to increase the number of people with official identification and the development impact of the overall identification system. When more people have formal identification and identification systems function well, individuals access necessary services, governments function better, use resources more efficiently, and improve statistics to better inform their future policies.

New Technologies creating New Opportunities for all


With the transformational potential of modern solutions—the advances in identification technology (both digital and biometric) and the dramatically falling costs of technology and implementation—there is an opportunity to leapfrog traditional paper-based approaches and build strong and efficient identification systems at a scale not previously achievable. Mobile devices also offer promising solutions to enroll and authenticate individuals with a unique identification, particularly in remote and rural areas.

Reaching the SDGs: One Identity, One Country at a time


A robust and efficient solution is becoming a priority for governments around the world and is included as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 16.9: “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.” It is also key to the attainment of many other SDG goals.

Strong identification systems can lead countries to become more economically prosperous and secure, operate more effectively and efficiently, protect human rights, and deliver benefits to people. There is evidence of this in a number of developing countries:

  • In THAILAND, the national ID number helps the government achieve universal health coverage and improve overall delivery of health services.
  • In PERU, universal registration of the population allows the Government to send immediate assistance to families affected in the event of a natural disaster.
  • In PAKISTAN, biometric technology ensures that women receive cash transfers directly and as a result, empowers them to decide how the money should be spent.
  • In INDIA, the unique ID number—known as Aadhaar—helps ensure that benefits and subsidies reach only the intended beneficiaries, which generated enough savings to pay for its establishment within a few years.


ID4D advances the global understanding of this critical and emerging topic through a dynamic research agenda focused on the following objectives:

Advocacy to raise awareness among client countries and other development practitioners about why ID is important and why invest in identification systems;

Informing country engagements with good practices and how identification systems can be designed to address the needs of various development use cases; and

Tracking progress through global data collection and impact evaluations.



© mihailomilovanovic

ID4D brings together like-minded partner organizations to shape the first set of shared Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development, and explore a minimum level of interoperable standards for developing countries. Together, these guide the creation of reliable identification systems that can work in different regions and countries. ID4D also facilitates South-South knowledge exchange, so governments can learn from successful models implemented in other emerging countries.

Together, these partners have reached a global consensus about how to create modern identification systems that achieve the ambitious goal of “Making Everyone Count” and ensuring that people have the identification they need to access important services and rights.


© Mia Harbitz

ID4D efforts at the country level supports countries to assess existing systems, design improvements, implement more robust systems, and strengthen linkages to services.

The World Bank will use a number of tools available across all stages of intervention at the country level.


Country assessments: To evaluate a country’s identity ecosystems, ID4D will help by conducting a country assessment using the Identify Management System Analysis (IMSA) tool. This tool is the first point of engagement in countries where assessments have not been conducted yet.       

Country support, including:

  • Convening multi-stakeholder dialogue across ministries, agencies, and private sectors
  • Advising on legal and regulatory frameworks, including data protection and privacy
  • Designing sustainable business models and institutional arrangements
  • Advising on technology standards, encouraging open architecture, and open standards
  • Linking identification to service delivery
  • Financing the necessary infrastructure
  • Monitoring and evaluation, including impact assessments

While ID4D is advancing single-country engagements, it also is developing and supporting regional approaches to ensure that identification systems are established in an integrated, interoperable manner to accelerate regional integration through safe and orderly migration, mutual recognition, and infrastructure for common digital markets. Read Strategic Framework


Global Leaders Join ID4D High-level Advisory Council to Accelerate Progress Towards Digital Identification for All

On October 12, 2017, the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) High-level Advisory Council -- co-chaired by World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed – met for the first time.  The creation of this Advisory Council recognizes the enabling and transformational role of identification systems in achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and advancing progress in many areas such as social protection, women and girls empowerment, financial inclusion, governance, healthcare, digital development and humanitarian response. [Read press release]


The Advisory Council, which includes eminent practitioners and thought-leaders from the public and private sector, has been formed to provide strategic guidance to the ID4D initiative and promote the vision of services and rights for all persons through robust, inclusive and responsible identification systems. Importantly, the Advisory Council will consider emerging trends and challenges, including innovations and new technologies, privacy and data protection, migration, and displacement.

This is a critical time for ID4D as it scales up country and regional engagement to provide identification to the estimated 1.1 billion people around the world without one, and actively engages with partners to build a multi-stakeholder platform. The Advisory Council, which will meet twice a year, is positioned to play a key role.

 ID4D High-level Advisory Council Members

ID4D High-level Advisory Council Members: Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Chief Executive Officer; Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; President Toomas Hendrik Illves, former President of Estonia; Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys and Founding Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India; Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial; Carolina Trevelli, former Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, Peru; Dr. Benno Ndulu, Governor, Bank of Tanzania; Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Founder of Celtel; and Iqbal Quadir, Founder of the Legatum Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of Grameenphone.

Highlights from the High Level Advisory Council Meeting

The Advisory Council held its inaugural meeting on October 12th on the sidelines of the 2017 World Bank Annual Meetings. The Advisory Council agreed on the importance of making identification systems a top development priority and outlined a number of strategies to build on the global momentum and ensure scale up of identification systems:

  • Many developing countries have the opportunity to leapfrog traditional paper-based solutions by deploying digital ID systems and enabling digital applications from the start.
  • The ‘foundational approach ‘to identification is critical to achieving universal inclusion. De-linked from citizenship, ID provision can be seen as a platform - a neutral construct - upon which various providers can build their own services.
  • Achieving scale requires both the public and private sector to develop the (digital) infrastructure and services that will allow registrants to make the most of the digital ID provided.  Once the government has laid down a robust and inclusive ID system, the private sector can build on this foundation to offer new and innovative services. Unique digital identity can be the cornerstone of financial inclusion and several other services.
  • Building trust in the identification process and the ID provider will be vital to achieve scale. To generate confidence and mitigate the risks, ID agencies in countries such as Peru benefitted from political and financial independence.
  • Basing new systems on an open source platform and standards can accelerate the implementation of digital ID systems, particularly in resource-strapped countries.
  • There is value in encouraging countries to build systems that allow for the mutual recognition of IDs and access to services across borders in an increasingly  mobile and interconnected world.


Given the size of the global identification gap, no single country, international organization, NGO, or private sector entity can surmount this challenge by working alone—coordination is needed at the global, regional and national levels. To this end, ID4D is developing strong relationships with a range of actors working on this emerging topic—including United Nations (UN) agencies, foundations, think tanks and academics, regional bodies, private sector associations and standards bodies.


To accelerate the Initiative’s work at global, regional and country levels, the ID4D Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) was established with catalytic contributions from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  (November 2016) and the Omidyar Network (joined in November 2017). This MDTF provides a platform for partners to cohesively advance progress across ID4D’s three pillars with a common vision and shared actions; and shapes global approaches and a shared vision on identification.


In addition, ID4D has been developing critical relationships with a range of others also working on this emerging topic – from UN agencies, other development partners, think tanks and academics, regional bodies, private sector associations and standards bodies. ID4D collaborates on a variety of efforts such as joint papers and coordinated country engagements with numerous organizations including:

  • Center for Global Development
  • European Commission
  • GSMA
  • International Organization for Migration
  • UN Refugee Agency
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • World Economic Forum
  • World Food Programme


Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Toward the Digital Age

More than 20 organizations came together to develop a set of shared “Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Toward the Digital Age” which considers the fundamentals to maximizing the benefits of identification systems while mitigating the risks. We hope additional organizations would be interested in joining, and consider this to be a living document to be revised in the future with further learning and implementation.



Technology Landscape for Digital Identification [Download PDF]

New technologies provide countries with the opportunity to leapfrog paper-based identification systems and rapidly establish robust digital identification infrastructure. Whether a country is enhancing existing ID systems or implementing new ID systems from the ground up, technology choices are critical to success. This 2017 report is a snapshot in time of this quickly evolving technology landscape. It is a first attempt at providing a comprehensive overview of various technologies and highlighting key benefits and challenges to practitioners. It also provides a framework for assessing each technology against multiple criteria, including length of time it has been in use, its ease of integration with legacy and future systems, and its interoperability with other technologies.


Identification for Development: Africa Business Plan [Download PDF]

With an estimated 502 million individuals in Africa lacking basic identification – accounting for nearly half the global total – developing robust and inclusive identification systems is a top priority in the region. This document outlines the status quo of systems in Africa, expected results for the end of FY20, and planned World Bank engagement at global, regional, and country levels.



The State of Identification Systems in Africa: A Synthesis of Country Assessments [Download PDF]

The ability to prove one’s identity is a cornerstone of participation in modern life, yet over 1.1 billion people lack proof of legal identity. As a first step in assisting client countries to close this identity gap, the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative conducts Identity Management Systems Analyses (IMSAs) to evaluate countries’ identity ecosystems and facilitate collaboration with governments. This report synthesizes the findings of IMSAs carried out in 17 African countries between 2015 and 2016.


The State of Identification Systems in Africa: Country Briefs [Download PDF]







Toolkit for Africa [Download PDF: ENGLISH / FRENCH]

This report provides a strategic view of the role of identification in a country's national development, as well as a tactical view of the building blocks and policy choices needed for setting up a digital identification system in a developing country. The report presents a conceptual overview of digital identity management practices, providing a set of guidelines at a national level that policymakers can find helpful as they begin to think about modernizing the identity infrastructure of their country into digital identification. 


Technical Standards for Digital Identity - Draft for Discussion [Download PDF]

The aim of this report is to catalogue technical standards for interoperable and robust identification systems.  ID4D is sharing this report as a “Draft for Discussion” to invite comments on this emerging and dynamic area of identification.  If you have comments, please send them to This report is part of ID4D’s multi-phased work on technical standards: Phase I – focused on the preparation of this report, including cataloguing the relevant technical standards; and Phase II – will focus on deeper dives into specific areas, such as data standards, in order to develop a framework of standards that would allow for interoperability and mutual recognition.

Digital Identity: Public and Private Sector Cooperation [Download PDF]

This paper lays out the digital identity lifecycle and the roles of various players across public and private sector.  It outlines public-private partnership models based on case examples across a range of countries.


Incentives for Improving Birth Registration Coverage: A Review of the Literature [Download PDF]

This paper describes a framework of supply and demand factors that could affect birth registration coverage rates, particularly in the context of social transfers. Within this framework, a review of the empirical literature (academic and grey) was conducted on incentives that have been demonstrated to increase birth registration coverage. More than 200 articles were reviewed, and 42 (23 academic and 19 grey) were selected for this study based on relevance. The literature encompassed evidence from Asia, Africa, and Latin America on linking birth registration with social transfer programs, such as cash transfers, which have resulted in increased birth registration rates.

Integrating Unique Identification Numbers In Civil Registration [Download PDF]

This report examines the process for assigning UINs at birth and the mechanism for incorporating them into the civil register and including them on the physical birth certificate. This report discusses the CRS and the practical steps necessary to ensure a system that can establish the identity of a person and issue a trusted certificate to attest to his or her civil status. Although it may serve as a reference for country-specific discussions, the overarching issues are universal.


The Role of Digital Identification for Healthcare: The Emerging Use Cases [Download PDF]


Identification is crucial for the efficient and effective delivery of health services and public health management. Healthcare and insurance providers need to be able to accurately identify patients over time, and patients need to be able to prove who they are. Similarly, providers, policymakers and researchers rely on up-to-date, uniquely identified patient data to quickly address disease outbreaks and improve treatments and performance. This paper aims to provide an analytical framework and synthesize selected examples of how foundational, digital ID systems are used for healthcare in a variety of countries. This initial effort providing early lessons and key considerations will help guide future work in this area.

Identification in the Context of Forced Displacement [Download PDF]

Lack of official identification significantly increases the vulnerability of those who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, persecution, or natural disaster. They may face difficulties proving their entitlement to nationality or to refugee status. This report considers the various inherent challenges in the context of forced displacement, as well as the World Bank’s support of robust identification and registration systems to mitigate the disruptive impacts.


The Role of Identification in Ending Child Marriage: Identification for Development [Download PDF]

The causes of child marriage are multifaceted and complex—including factors such as poverty, culture, and gender and social norms. This report investigates the positive role identification plays in preventing child marriage and empowering girls.


Identification for Development: Its Potential for Empowering Women and Girls [Download PDF]

This paper draws on case studies to examine the links between identification for women and girls and specific policy areas such as access to financial services, access to social protection schemes, and inclusion in electoral roles and voting. 


The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda Digital Identity [Download PDF]

The paper outlines the role of identity and identification and its importance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda—specifically as one of the proposed SDG targets (#16.9), but also as a key enabler of the efficacy of many other SDG targets.


ID4D Global Dataset [click here]

The ID4D Global Dataset, updated annually, aggregates data from publicly available information on the coverage of official identification systems for 198 economies.


Guidelines for ID4D Diagnostics [Download PDF]

 ID4D country and regional engagement frequently begins with a diagnostic exercise—previously called an “Identity Management Systems Analysis (IMSA)”—of existing and planned identification systems. The ID4D Diagnostic methodology was developed in collaboration with governments and development partners, and provides a holistic approach to a country’s identity ecosystem, including institutions, technology, laws, policies, and practices related to identification.



EveryID has a Story: 

Some 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have an official proof of identity, which greatly limits their ability to access services and benefits, such as education or financial inclusion. With digital technologies, countries now have the power to efficiently change that. The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative is documenting—through the #EveryID has a Story campaign—how official IDs have a transformative effect on people’s lives.

Opening Doors: How National IDs Empower Women Cross Border Traders in East Africa 

There are vast numbers of small-scale cross border traders in East Africa trading and the majority (about 75 percent) are women. Their work provides a vital source of income for their families and, while small-scale informal economic activity is difficult to measure, estimates suggest that makes a non-negligible contribution to the national economy as it is valued at up to 85 per cent of formal trade.  In Uganda, the new NIRA card, helps women cross border traders expand their businesses, support their families, and empower themselves. Read More 

EveryID has a Story: The Gift of Hearing by way of an ID card: Pierina’s Story

The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative is documenting—through the #EveryID has a story campaign—how official IDs have a transformative effect on people’s lives. Peru experienced tremendous economic growth in the past fifteen years. To help the economic gains to trickle down to the poor, the government started an array of social programs in the early 2000s, from education to health to pensions, targeting those living on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Here, Pierina gets a cochlear implant and her hearing when she accesses public health insurance with her Peruvian ID card. Read More

Counting the uncounted: 1.1 billion people without proof of legal ID

Today, an estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot officially prove their identity, concludes the 2017 update of the World Bank's Identification for Development (ID4D) Global Dataset. The data determined that 78% of these individuals live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia; one in six are under age five. By understanding the scale of this challenge, the dataset helps tackle the daunting task of providing identification to all. [Read more]

Making Everyone Count: How Identification Could Transform the Lives of Millions of Africans

First appearing in the World Economic Forum, Makhtar Diop’s opinion piece calls on leaders to find the political will to take advantage of the transformational potential offered by investing in identification systems. Almost half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have official IDs. Identification is a foundational tool, he believes, that reaps wide-ranging benefits by helping governments run efficiently and better deliver services. [Read more]

Ten Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development

The global identification gap is a significant challenge for sustainable development. The new Principles on Identification are an important step to closing it. The principles were developed jointly by more than 16 global organizations in a cooperative and consultative process to coordinate efforts to change this reality for people without official identification. [Read more]

Underage with an ID to prove it

The vast majority of countries prohibit child marriage, yet some 15 million girls are still married before age 18 every year. The causes of child marriage are multifaceted and complex—including factors such as poverty, culture, and gender and social norms.  Birth certificates and effective ID systems can make it easier to enforce laws that prohibit this practice—and give young girls a chance at a better future. [Read more]


Making the invisible billion more visible: the power of digital identification

Twenty-first century technological innovation has created unprecedented opportunities to benefit individuals without official identification. [Read more]



Public-private cooperation to build digital identity systems

The World Bank, together with partners, launched the white paper, “Digital Identity: Towards Shared Principles for Public and Private Sector Cooperation,” which frames the initial key issues, benefits, and challenges for public-private cooperation to build digital identity systems. [Read more]


Identification for Development: Its Potential for Empowering Women and Girls

The reality in the developing world where one in five individuals have no proof of official identification disproportionately affects women and girls. They face more barriers in getting IDs because of restricted travel outside the home, lack of familial and communal support, and illiteracy. [Read more]

EveryID has a Story: 

The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative is documenting—through the #EveryID has a Story campaign—how official IDs have a transformative effect on people’s lives. [Watch]



Every ID has a story: The Gift of Hearing by way of an ID card: Pierina’s Story

The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative is documenting—through the #EveryID has a story campaign—how official IDs have a transformative effect on people’s lives.

In this video, a young child named Pierina gets a cochlear implant and her hearing when she accesses public health insurance with her Peruvian ID card. [Watch]

Making Everyone Count

A short video on the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative and its role in assisting countries to reach the transformation potential of digital identification. [Watch]



LIVE Annual Meetings | Identification for Development: Harnessing the Power of Digital Solutions

Join the World Bank’s Chief Economist and panelists from governments and the private sector as they discuss how countries have developed identification systems to enable a range of key development outcomes. [Watch]


Transforming Government: Digital Identity in India

In less than 5 years, India has created the world’s largest biometric identification program in the world, issuing 1.1 billion Aadhaar cards which have given identification to an unprecedented 99.5 percent of the adult population. [Watch]


Message from the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet

A message from the current President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet’s, on how identification can help facilitate access to services and rights, for all. [Watch]