The Aadhaar Card: Now a Mandatory Proof of Identification
By Vasundhara Rastogi
The Aadhaar card contains a twelve-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to all individuals residing in India, regardless of their citizenship. This means it is applicable for non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreign residents, as well.
According to the Aadhaar Act, 2016, a ‘resident’ is an individual who has resided in India for 182 days or more in total in the previous one year prior to the date of application for Aadhaar. It is therefore applicable to expatriates who reside in India on long-term visas. However, Aadhaar is only meant to serve as a proof of identity and address, and does not equate to Indian citizenship.
Any individual resident can enrol for their Aadhaar number, free of cost, by providing basic demographic and biometric information: photograph, 10 fingerprints, and the iris scan, along with appropriate documents at the Aadhaar enrolment centre.
Although Aadhaar enrolment is a voluntary provision under the Aadhaar Act, the government has made it mandatory for residents to obtain Aadhaar identification to gain access to several of its important schemes and policies. Most recently, it was made compulsory for filing tax returns.
There are four categories of identity verification needed for Aadhaar enrolment:
- Proof of Identity (PoI): Passport, PAN card, driving license, photo credit card, photo ID issued by a recognized educational institution, certificate of identity that has a photo issued by a gazetted officer, address card that has name, or photo issued by the department of posts.
- Proof of Address (PoA): Passport, bank statement or passbook, government photo ID cards, driving license, electricity, water or telephone bill (not older than three months), insurance policy, passport of spouse, or marriage certificate that has the residential address.
- Proof of Date of Birth (DoB): Passport, birth certificate, PAN Card, or government photo ID cards that contains date of birth.
- Proof of Relationship (PoR): Passport, pension card, or marriage certificate issued by the government.
Some of the common documents listed above serve as proof for all given categories. For instance, the passport can be used as proof for identity, address, relationship as well as for date of birth. Moreover, the procedure and document requirements for NRIs and foreign residents are the same, as for any other resident of India.
Linking Aadhaar to PAN
The government recently made it compulsory for every individual, who is eligible to obtain their Aadhaar number, to link it with their ten-digit Permanent Account Number (PAN).
The two identification numbers can be linked on the Income tax website. When linking, the name, date of birth, and gender displayed on the income tax website must match with the details given on the Aadhaar Card.
Additionally, individuals are required to quote their Aadhaar number for the filing of income tax returns as well as for obtaining a new PAN card. The new rules come into force from July 1, 2017.
Concerns for expatriates
Recently, the government of India has made quoting the Aadhaar number mandatory for filing income tax returns in the country. This is a cause of concern for NRIs and foreign residents who have already left India and must file tax returns.
For such individuals, one option is to return to India to obtain their Aadhaar number because Aadhaar requires biometric information. Alternatively, they could file their tax returns before July 1, 2017.
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