Government issued ID definition

A government-issued ID is an identification document issued by the United States federal or local state government that allows a citizen to identify themselves.

Government-issued identification documents are considered a valid form of identification by the authorities.

What Is Considered a Government Issued ID?

A government-issued photo ID is a document issued by a government agency with sufficient authority and importance to be universally recognized. They can be used to have other types of identification documents, such as a passport, issued.

Identification documents issued by a specific government agency typically allow holders to access services within that same agency. For example, a Social Security Card cannot be used to drive, just as a Driver’s License cannot be used to borrow books from a public library.

What Information Is Included in Government-issued IDs?

Government-issued IDs feature personal information and details that allow a person to identify and prove they are who they claim to be. This usually includes:

  • A photograph
  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Issuance date and agency
  • Fingerprints or other biometric information

What is the National ID in the US?

There is currently no federal agency with nationwide jurisdiction that issues mandatory identity documents to all US citizens.

The only national government-issued IDs in the US are the passport book, passport card —which can be obtained voluntarily—, and social security cards —which carry a citizen’s Social Security Number.

Birth Certificate Vs. Government-issued ID

A US birth certificate is usually the first government-issued identification document a newborn citizen receives. Birth certificates can be used to prove a citizen’s identity, age, and citizenship and can be used as documentation to have photo IDs issued.

When parents register a child’s birth, they have the opportunity to also request a Social Security Number for the child, on the same form. This nationwide form is prepared by the hospital or birthing center where the birth took place and is known as a Certificate of Live Birth.

State Vs. Federal Government-Issued IDs

In the United States, identification documents may be issued at the state level or at the national level.

Some examples of state photo IDs include:

  • A state-issued driver’s license
  • A state-issued identity card

Some examples of federal or national IDs include:

Each state issues driver’s licenses as well as non-driver state identity cards. The latter serves the same photo identification functions as a driver’s license but does _not _grant the holder permission to operate a motor vehicle.

A US passport serves as identification for United States citizens during international travel. A passport card, on the other hand, can only be used at specific land border-crossings or ports of entry by sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

Although Social Security cards have federal jurisdiction in the United States, they cannot be used to verify a citizen’s identity.

A Social Security card can be used to:

  • Comply with Social Security payroll tax laws
  • Obtain credit
  • Request other regulated financial services in banking and investments

Other government-issued IDs in the US include military ID cards, state-issued photo IDs, and citizenship cards, amongst others.