Types of National Identity in Nigeria

There are several types of national identity documents in Nigeria which are used for identification, preventing identity fraud and numerous other purposes. In this article, we’ll be addressing the various types of national identity documents available to Nigerian citizens and legal residents in Nigeria. Keep on reading to find out what they are. 

Types of National Identity in Nigeria

The types of national identity in Nigeria would be discussed below: 

  • National Identity Number 

The National Identity Number (NIN) is a unique 11-digit number issued to Nigerian citizens and legal residents who enroll to be added to the National Identity Database. In addition, the National Identity Number serves as a means of verifying the identity of an individual and is therefore valid for all legitimate transactions within Nigeria.  

To get the National Identity Number, whether as a citizen or a legal resident, the process begins with enrollment at any accredited National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) registration centre spread across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.  During registration, the individual’s fingerprint, passport photographs, and Certificate of Origin would be required. Immediately after the registration, a transaction slip would be issued to the enrollee. It takes a day to five days for the NIN Slip to be ready, after which the applicant is expected to return with the transaction slip to the permanent NIN Slip. The NIN, which is an 11-digit number, is found at the top left corner, the second row of the NIN Slip.  It is free to obtain NIN, but renewal comes with a price.

  • Bank Verification Number

Following the establishment of its Single Identification System, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on February 14, 2014, mandated all bank account holders in Nigeria own a Bank Verification Number. The BVN was implemented in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 1958, to reduce banking fraud in the banking system. 

The Bank Verification Number (BVN) is a unique 11-digit number issued to every individual with a bank account in Nigeria, and it’s the same across all banking institutions for the same individual. That is, an individual with 5 bank accounts from different banking institutions is expected to have the same BVN across all the banks he (or she) banks with.  As a biometric identification system, the BVN registration works by recording the fingerprint, signature, and facial photograph of the individual captured at the point of enrollment. The BVN is meant to be kept private and shared with anybody. 

  • International Passport

An international passport is a recognized national identity document for Nigerian citizens and is also part of the requirement to travel outside Nigeria to another country whether by air, land, or sea. In Nigeria, there are five types of international passports issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), namely; Diplomatic passport, Official passport, Standard passport, Pilgrim passport, and Seaman Book passport. These passports are issued to individuals based on their status in the country. 

The Diplomatic passport and Official passport are usually issued to high-ranking public officials,  and the holders of these types of Nigerian passports enjoy certain privileges like the ease of international travel and exemption from certain airport protocols, and so much more. The Standard passport is issued to every Nigerian citizen seeking to travel abroad while the Pilgrims passport is issued for pilgrimage to places like Jerusalem and Mecca. The Seamon Book passport is specifically issued to professionals who work aboard ships and other vessels and frequently travel by sea. 

  • Certificate of State of Origin/ Certificate of Local Government of Origin 

This type of national identity speaks to the paternal heritage of an individual, that is, it is determined by the father’s community of origin. This is a general means of identification and is also required for several purposes, including application for civil service posts, scholarship schemes, employment, and for admission into institutions of learning. Also, this form of identification is required for obtaining an international passport, as well as for National Identity Number enrollment and numerous other official interactions. The Certificate of State of Origin and Certificate of Local Government of Origin serves the same function. 

The Certificate of State of Origin and Certificate of Local Government Origin is issued by the State Liason Office and the Local Government Secretariat respectively. The Certificate of State of Origin is usually issued to an applicant who resides in a State other than the individual’s State of origin. For instance, if an individual from Delta State residing in Lagos State wants to obtain a Certificate of State of Origin, such an applicant is to visit the Delta State Liaison Office in Lagos State to apply for the document. On the other hand, if an individual lives in his/her State of origin and wishes to obtain a Certificate of Local Government of Origin, such an individual would have to visit his/her Local Government Secretariat to apply and obtain the document. For instance, Ayodele who lives in Ikeja but is from Ikorodu would have to pay a visit to the Ikorodu Local Government Secretariat to obtain a Certificate of Local Government of Origin. 

  • Driver’s Licence 

In Nigeria, one must have a Driver’s Licence to be able to drive on Nigerian public roads. And the Federal Road Safety Commission is responsible for issuing Driver’s Licences to qualified drivers. However, before a person can qualify for a Driver’s Licence, he/she must first attend a driving course to attain proficiency in driving. Thereafter, with the certificate of driving proficiency obtained from an FRSC-authorized faculty, the individual can proceed to register for the Driver’s Licence, either online or offline. 

  • Birth Certificate 

A Birth Certificate is a type of national identity document issued to every person who was born in Nigeria. The National Population Commission ( NPC) has the responsibility of registering every person born in Nigeria. There are NPC registration centres in every of the 774 Local Government Areas, as well as at hospitals, health centres, and other medical facilities. Birth Certificates are free of charge if obtained within sixty days of the birth of the child. 


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