Guinea Bissau Opts for Secure National ID Card to Combat Fraud

Due to a surge in falsification, the National Identity Card of Guinea Bissau was in need of improvements. In an effort to achieve new levels of security and modernize the existing paper-based system, new technologies were implemented including application development, systems and network design, database design and optimization, biometrics and encryption.

CUSTOMER: Republic of Guinea-Bissau

CHALLENGE: The government of Guinea-Bissau needed to modernize its national ID program to prevent fraud and counterfeiting.

SOLUTION: Create national ID cards with multi-layered security and issue them with the Datacard® SP75 card printer.

RESULTS: Guinea-Bissau plans to issue more than one million national ID cards in five years, all of which will help combat fraud.

Guinea Bissau National ID

Modernizing to fight fraud

The Republic of Guinea-Bissau in western Africa, home to approximately 1.6 million people, is one of the smallest nations in continental Africa. Yet the country was experiencing big issues with its national identity card, the primary form of citizen identification. Following a surge in document falsification and counterfeiting from internal and external sources, the national ID had lost its credibility as a viable credential. The government was under growing pressure to start over, building a more secure national ID program from the ground up. To do this, it turned to technology from Datacard Group.

In order to modernize Guinea-Bissau's existing paper-based system, the new solution needed to integrate the latest identification technologies for application development, systems and network design, database design and optimization, biometrics, and encryption. The government wanted to upgrade its original civil registration and identification system, and there was no existing secure computerized civil registration database to identify the country's citizens. The government also needed to modernize its card issuance process, adding comprehensive audit trails to reduce internal fraud. Plus, the government needed a solution that could easily handle its demand: registering, producing and issuing one million national ID cards in five years.

Enhancing ID card security

Working closely with the project integrator, SEMLEX (, Datacard Group and its authorized distributor, Multi-Post NV, recommended the Datacard® SP75 card printer to enhance the security of the national ID itself. The SP75 card printer can apply security laminates — in this case, a Datacard® DuraGard® Optigram® Laminate that features an embedded custom hologram of the Guinea- Bissau coat of arms that is virtually impossible to alter or duplicate. The laminate also includes a customized guilloche pattern, secure microtext and other covert security features, all of which provide a strong defense against fraud and forgery. Plus, the SP75 card printer can apply laminate to both sides of the card, as well as print a high-quality, full-color digital photo of each cardholder. It is also reliable enough to withstand the high heat and humidity in Guinea-Bissau.

The latest secure ID technology

Using the SP75 card printer as its issuance platform, the new integrated ID solution includes a civilian automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) to reduce potential internal fraud, eliminate duplicate identities and accurately verify the identity of legitimate cardholders.

Applicants must first establish their identity via documentary evidence (such as an existing ID card or birth certificate) and fill out an application form for enrollment at an ID station. Next, the cardholder’s identification data are encoded and an operator captures a digital photograph and two index fingerprints. All of this information is registered in a central database. Then the solution automatically launches a biometric one-to-many (1:n) identification process to ensure the applicant is not previously registered under another identity. The applicant’s fingerprint templates are compared to all of the reference templates in the database. The objective of this process is to avoid mistakes, identify error patterns that indicate attempted fraud and help eliminate multiple identities. All applicants must collect their ID cards in person at an issuance workstation, where a final verification and a one-to-one (1:1) authentication takes place.

Reestablishing credibility

The new Guinea-Bissau national ID card is more modern, sophisticated, highly secure and digitally printed. It contains all of the standard citizen’s data — name, date of birth, national identity number and facial image — as well as the minutia of the left and right index finger embedded within a 2D PDF 417 bar code. The Guinea-Bissau identity system has proven to be effective, ensuring operational efficiency and enhancing security — which will go a long way toward helping the country prevent election fraud, fictitious employment, salary remuneration fraud, illegal immigration and related identity issues.

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