The card was introduced as part of the kingdom’s e-government strategy, launched in 2004, and is essentially a smart card replacing the original Central Population Registry (CPR) card. It also replaces the immigration ID card issued by the General Directorate for Nationality, Passports & Residence Affairs, and the driving licence issued by the General Directorate for Traffic. Essentially three cards in one, the chip on the card also carries a host of other data, and has built-in biometrics storage for fingerprints. As well as the photograph and signature of the holder, other information held on the card includes passport and basic medical details, and latest academic qualifications. It also acts as an electronic payment card for online government services and can be used as a travel document, allowing cardholders to pass through electronic border control gates, such as those at Bahrain International airport.

One of the main purposes of the card is to enable faster and easier access to government services through a home card reader. The card also contains a contactless chip so that holders can carry a small e-purse to pay at road tolls, car parks and petrol stations. Visually, the card depicts Bahrain’s flag and a portrait of the king. The national flag of the card holder is also displayed, along with the GCC emblem if the holder is a GCC national.

The electronic cards are issued by the Central Informatics Organisation and supplied by Netherlands-based Gemalto. Several supporting documents are required to apply, including the applicant’s passport and a sponsorship letter from the employer containing the names of any dependents. Marriage certificates and birth certificates for these dependents are also required. Cards are issued by the main smart card office in Isa Town. There is also a smaller office in Sitra. Call first to make an appointment. The national ID card is valid for five years and can be renewed online.

Key contact

Smart card

Building 1088, Road 4025, Block 840, Isa Town

Tel: (+973) 1 787 8000/8208

Web: www.sc.renewal.gov.bh