(Update #1) NBI ID Card – de facto National ID

I went to the NBI Mall Center in Carriedo, Manila last Wednesday, 2008-June-04 to get my NBI Card/ID. A former colleague informed me about this ID Card last month, the day after I renewed my NBI clearance. This NBI ID is a legal Identification Card, even Philippine Banks highly recommend this Card more than any other legal IDs in the Philippines. A legal ID, supposed to be honoured anywhere and in every government institutions…. it wasn’t the case.

Follow up:

After waiting for almost 3 hours, I got my NBI ID, also rumoured to become the future Philippine National ID, although it is already the de facto National ID. The card was provided by Mega Data Corporation, and I am really impressed with it, a color green card called “Clearance Renewal Card” from “NBI Carriedo”. The first thing that I noticed and looked for was the technology embedded in the ID card – to my excitement, it is a combination of the Old and the New.

Magnetic Stripe. At the back of the NBI Card is the old technology we are all very familiar with, the magnetic stripe, that thick pure black stripe. However it doesn’t have the little white stripe below it where you put your signature. We’ll talk about this later.

NBI ID Card – Back

Barcode. In front of the ID, at the very bottom is your Identification Number Barcode. This is another piece of old technology that is still widely used today, especially here in the Philippines. I can say that Barcode is a “mid-tech”, between the old and the new. Although, it is used mostly for identification, example, an item’s price or in the NBI ID’s case – your unique, as I call it – Citizen Number.

SMART Chip. This is what I first looked for, the new technology (which isn’t new at all globally). It is found on the front side of any modern card today. I was very happy to see this, the first time I used a SMART Card was during the trial-runs of MasterCard’s MONDEX – dubbed as the precursor to a “Cashless Society”.

For the NBI Card, encoded are all the data about a person as recorded/provided by the NBI Database.

NBI ID Card – Front

Now I am no longer an illegal alien in my own country! Or so I thought…

I went to the Makati Post Office after I got my NBI ID. From Carriedo to Ayala Ave under the scorching sun. Once there – to pick up my GNU/Linux Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu CD installers (32-bit and 64-bit CDs) – the Post Office’s Customs told me the NBI ID Card is not honored. Why? Because it doesn’t show the signature of the ID holder!


So, for the Post Office, a literal Human signature is very important for them to identify the person. The digitized ID of the NBI is not a valid ID in the Post Office. Your Digital Identification Number is not valid. That unique piece of digital ID number is useless.

I do not and can not blame them. First of all, they do not have the tools needed to read the ID. Which tools?

  • Magnetic Stripe reader, and/or
  • Barcode reader, and/or
  • SMART Card reader

Second, their own legal ID – “Postal ID” was *ehemm* “delevelled”, not officially tho but by practice. Banks today will not honour Postal IDs because it can be easily faked at Recto (for those who are not familiar, Recto, Manila is popularly known as the area where you can pay anyone to create duplicates/fakes of Identification Cards, Report Cards, and anything non-digitally encoded).

Third, Postal IDs were ignored by the government and was never upgraded (ouch, if you work for the Postal Office)

Fourth, they do not know what the technology is and what it contains. For them, the NBI ID Card is nothing but another legal ID created by the government to compete with the SSS Digitized ID. It is a race towards which ID system will be recognized as the Official Philippine National ID. An ID developed and maintained by a private entity or an ID developed and maintained by the government.

But who cares, right? For us, ordinary citizens of this “2nd World Country” (soon to go back to being 3rd world, thanks to rising prices), all we want is to have an Identification Card that will be honoured by any government institutions (e.g. Postal Office) and private entities (e.g. Banks). Many of us are illegal aliens in our own country because they made it hard for us to acquire a legal ID.

I’ve met a lot of Filipinos, who like me, are illegal aliens in our own country, and ironically, we all have fine, good pay jobs and positions. Imagine that! So much for the NBI ID not being recognized by some government institutions. The NBI must include the oldest technology of all:
“Written Signature”. They might as well include the person’s “SSS Number” and “Tax Identification Number (TIN)” to make it complete, and recognized by everyone like the Postal Office.

UPDATE 2008-06-09:

1) NBI Clearance (new or not older than 3 months)
2) Apply yourself (for digital photo)
3) PhP120.00

Since it’s the “NBI”, their “signature” is our fingerprint (right thumb to be exact) which is then encoded digitally. This is one sure way of keeping the NBI ID Card useless if you lost it, one day establishments can cross-check the digital fingerprint code embedded on the ID by also taking your fingerprint. If it fails to match, then the NBI ID was obviously stolen, faked, or illegally using a lost NBI ID Card.

Of course, that future will become a reality if the NBI Card becomes “the Legal” Philippine National ID.

Are you against the idea of a National ID? Well, that’s for another day. ^_^ For this write-up, I’m only pointing out the need for an ID that is both legal and valid, with a Signature, an SSS Number, TIN Number, Magnetic Stripe, Barcode, and which is a SMART Card. An ID recognized and honoured by all government institutions and private establishments.

I know you will agree that we simply do not have the time to go spend the whole day or two trying to get different legal IDs, and then waiting for the release or we have to pick it up. We have lives to live, bills to pay, work/job to take care of. Just one ID for all. And right now, that seems to be the NBI Renewal Card (ID). They just need to make it better, so the Post Office for example will recognize its validity.

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