Indian citizens will now be assigned a unique digital ID number from birth, in further expansion of the Aadhaar registry scheme.

A birth certificate is one of the most primitive identity documents that an individual will obtain in their lives; there is indication that India is looking to streamline and digitalise the birth registration process by adding people from birth to death in its biometric national registry, Aadhaar.

The ID cards – which were first issued by India’s then prime minister, Narendra Modi, in 2014 – have been an asset to manage better, but more secure access to government services and benefits for those eligible as well as use in everyday life to apply for jobs etc.

As children are not eligible to use biometrics, from birth under 5’s will be issued with a temporary card which will be made permanent after the child is 5+. At the age of 18, an individual is required to re-register. While 16 states have currently adopted the Aadhaar ID system for birth registrations, which started accelerating in June, India’s government has high hopes that all 28 could begin issuing digital ID at birth while keeping birth certificates, to ensure citizens are able to access government services throughout their lives.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues permanent Aadhaar ID to residents only, providing single offline or online verification across the country. Citizens may authenticate and confirm their identity offline and electronically once they have enrolled onto the registry and any duplicate entries have been removed, using biographic and/or biometric searches. This saves time in improving the government’s capability to accurately deliver benefits services to citizens and taking people off the registry when they die.

The Aadhaar platform also has been praised for providing accurate and clear information about how the government delivers its services. Aadhaar cards issued to under 5’d will use the parents’ demographic information linked with their digital ID, but biometric data can be collected and recorded when the citizen turns five and again at 15.

The changes will improve the efficiency of the scheme that has been running to ensure everybody has access to social government support, catering most for poor or vulnerable sections of society. The UIDAI also oversees ensuring that false or doctored digital Identity duplicates are taken out of circulation.

The UIDAI’s dashboard indicates that 1.34 billion citizens are registered on the system while the population size is 1.41 billion people.