International Photo Identification

Written by mark slingo
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International Photo Identification
A passport is the most widely accepted form of international photo ID. (passport image by Gemma Williams from

Forms of photographic identification (ID) that are recognised internationally are limited in number. Accepted photo identification is subject to the laws of the country in which it is being used. Rules can differ about what is accepted identification, for nationals and aliens of the country. For example, a national ID card can be used by a country's resident whereas national ID cards for other countries are not valid.


A person's passport is the most widely accepted form of photographic identification worldwide. It contains information about the person, including the person's date of birth and nationality. Because of the screening process required to get a passport, in some countries it is the only acceptable form of photo ID. It is generally used in conjunction with any action a person undertakes in a foreign country. It is the only form of ID that can be used when making credit card withdrawals from a bank or exchange in foreign countries, and the only form of ID that allows people to cross borders.

International Driving License

The International Driving License is a form of photo ID that is valid in more than 200 countries. Used alongside a domestic driver's license, it provides the driver's identity and shows to relevant authorities that he or she has the right to drive a car in that country. The identification has the photograph on it, as well as the driver details, plus guidelines for the user in up to 12 languages. This driving license can be used in car hire and road traffic law enforcement incidents within countries that approve its use.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The ISIC card is a photo ID valid internationally especially designed for students. One must have student identification and proof of age to apply for this type of photo ID. The ISIC card verifies the user as a student at a recognised institution. This is submitted as photo ID when the user is trying to secure services, worldwide, on student rates such as airline bookings or cheaper hotel rooms. It is the only internationally recognised card of its type.

National Identity Cards

Identity cards issued by national authorities for domestic use are occasionally accepted as identification in some countries. However, their acceptance depends on what they are being used for and the country in which they are being used. Generally, they are not widely accepted, and a passport is a much better form of international photo ID.

Industry Specific ID Cards

In some areas around the world, industry-specific photo ID cards are accepted. Examples of these include military identification in war zones, identity cards of international organisations such as the United Nations and industry-specific cards issued to international members of the press. These cards are specific and only valid as photo identification for certain purposes around the world.

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