Everything You Need To Know About Aadhaar
It’s the world’s largest national identification number project – India’s Aadhaar system which aims to record the basic demographic and biometric data of every resident in India, and issue them with a 12 digit unique identification number which can then be used in the administration of unemployment benefits, passports and crime databases. A programme of this size has not run without hitches, and although well over one billion Aadhaar numbers have been issued, around 15% of the population still have to enrol in the scheme.
What the Aadhaar Does
The main idea behind the Aadhaar card, as organised by the Unique Identification Authority of India, is that the number will make access to government paperwork much easier. Aadhaar is for every Indian resident including children, and the scheme is voluntary not compulsory. The Aadhaar card is recognised across India unlike many of the other identification cards which are issued at state level and may not be recognised further afield. Aadhaar will make going on to apply for passports or to open a bank account easier, and will be the default proof of both nationality and identity. It is free to enrol in Aadhaar and the Indian government has undertaken an extensive advertising effort to try to maximise the uptake of the new cards.
Non-Indian Residents and Aadhaar
Although Aadhaar is primarily intended as an identification scheme for Indians, foreigners can apply for an Aadhaar card too. This could make it much easier for them to open bank accounts, take out a new mobile phone contract or rent a property. In order to qualify for an Aadhaar card, the foreigner has to be resident in India and be able to prove their address. Aadhaar applications are therefore open to people working in India or studying there, but not just visiting relatives or on holiday on a temporary basis. It also takes around three months for a Aadhaar card to be issued from the start of the application process, so short term visitors or residents will probably not find it worthwhile applying.
Applying for An Aadhaar Card
You have to be physically in India when starting the Aadhaar application process. The first step is to go to one of the many Enrolment Centres in the state where you are based. There are thousands of centres all over the country and lists of addresses and contact numbers on lots of different websites. You don’t have to go to your nearest Aadhaar centre, and you don’t have to make an appointment. Once you arrive at your enrolment centre, you will be given application paperwork to complete, and have your documents verified. You will need to take documents to prove your identity, address and date of birth. There is a wide range of documents which are accepted by Aadhaar enrolment centres as proof, the main ones being passport, driving licence, government identity cards, and other officially issued government photo ID cards to prove identity. To prove your address in India, you need bank statements, utility bills, property tax receipts or vehicle registration certificates. All enrolment centres will have a telephone number listed where you can call and get advice on the type of documentation required for your individual circumstances. Once you have provided the documents at the enrolment centre and had them verified, you will have your fingerprints taken along with a digital photograph and iris recognition picture. After this has been done, you will be issued with your unique Aadhaar number. This number can then be used on the official government website to track the progress of your Aadhaar card, which can take up to 90 days to be issued.
Aadhaar for Children
Parents in India can, if they choose to do so, apply for Aadhaar cards on behalf of their children. Over time, the rules about what information is needed from children has changed. There were issues experienced with taking pictures of young children, and rules have been relaxed so that biometric data along with photographs are only taken of children aged five or over. For younger children, their Aadhaar cards will be linked to the biometric data provided by their parents. Once the child is older, they can go back to the enrolment centre to give their fingerprints and have their photograph taken, and this can then be linked to the existing data held on the system under their unique 12 digit number. Any adult applying for an Aadhaar card on behalf of a child will need to provide the child’s birth certificate when making the application.
Renewing Your Aadhaar Card
Your 12 digit Aadhaar number will never change, and will stay with you through however many changes of name and address you go through in a lifetime. If you lose your Aadhaar card, you can easily request a replacement by logging into the website and following the options to request a duplicate card. If you change your name or gender, or if mistakes are made when producing your card, you can ask the website to send a special PIN number to the mobile number you have registered. If you wish to change your name or surname listed on the Aadhaar card, you will have to upload documentation proving your change of name. Parents can apply to change names listed for children.
Indians Resident Overseas
The Aadhaar card is designed only for people who are resident in India, whatever their nationality. There is no mechanism for Indian nationals studying or living overseas to apply for Aadhaar online or through their local Consulates and Embassies. Students can apply for an Aadhaar card when at home on vacation, but must still be able to prove their permanent address in India. Aadhaar cards have to be sent in the post to an address in India and cannot be send overseas. People who have moved overseas to live permanently will only be able to apply for their Aadhaar card when or if they move back to India with the intention to stay.