My Portuguese Citizen Card

We Portuguese people are always (just a little) behind the modern Europe.
If you are from a country like the US or the UK, you’re probably used to identify yourself just with your driving license or so, but in Portugal we like PAPER and BUREAUCRACY, so, we have/had a card for pretty much every record the government has of you. For example, I always used to carry with me in my wallet my:
1) ID Card (proofs I am a Portuguese citizen);
2) Driving license;
3) National health card (proofs I am registered in the national health system);
4) Elector card (proofs I can vote and tells people in which town I can do that);
5) “Contributor’s” card (proofs I am registered in the financial system or something like that)
…apart from these I carry also cards for bank account, University and others…! And I never got my social security one (although I am registered in it, of course) or else it would be #6! If I sit with my wallet in my back pocket I get 1 feet taller!

Plus, the old ID card was not the card you might be thinking of (if you’re not Portuguese)… it was a paper card with a plastic cover, see the image bellow:

Portuguese ID Card

It had two squares: one for your fingerprint and another for your photo and it was huge!

It had one advantage that is now lost though: if you happen to be falling off a cliff, you could quickly take out your Portuguese ID card, fold it in a hang-glider and escape form death to live a happy life!

But now (well, not so long ago) we got what we call the “Cartão de Cidadão” — Citizen’s Card. It replaces a bunch of them (1, 3, 5 and the missing 6 and eventually will replace the #4)! Yes, what a relief! Today I went to pick mine and I am happy about it! I am no longer ashamed when I show my ID to, for example a Spanish person.

Here’s the card’s design (no, that’s obviously not me in the picture) :

So, to pick my card a lady at the what we call “Civil Register” had me identified using a fingerprint scanner connected to her Windows powered computer. She told me:
“If you like this computer business and stuff, you can buy a card reader and go to this website… then click here… and you can edit your data in your card like your mailing address, etc.”
and I thought: “hmm, will it work in my Linux box?”

Another step towards modern Europe!

15 thoughts on “My Portuguese Citizen Card”

  1. The card ID number is the same as the old cards’ of which old check digit was wrong since it could result in conflicts… (yeah, I know…)

    The new check digits I believe they are the 3 char string that are “ZA3” on the example card image I linked in the post — the string in the middle right above the card’s signature.

    Now how to check the number I haven’t searched yet…

  2. So is the old one invalid then? Or it can still be used until expiration date? Or should be swapped for the new one as soon as possible?

  3. Hi Joaquim,
    I recently received my new Citizen Card. On the notification letter I have been provided with several PIN numbers (PIN for morada, for authentication, for unlocking PIN, etc). What are all these PIN numbers for? When do I use them?

  4. hi there,

    I have a Portuguese friend who is traveling with us, can he travel inside Europe with his old Portuguese ID card? or dose he need to get a Portuguese passport?
    Thank you

  5. The various PINs informed in the PIN letters are:
    1) PIN Morada- used by citizen to authenticate himself to perform the change of his address on the chip and Public entities (Tax office, Health, Social Services, etc.). This process is done accessing the web portal
    PIN authenticação-used to authernticate the citizen on the various egovernmetn services.
    PIN assinatura- when inside a egovernment portal, some documents or transactions performed by citizens may require a digital signature, this PIN is the one used for signing digitally a document or transaction in the internet.
    Unblocking PIN- In case the citizen types the worng PIN 3 times, the card is blocked, so this PIN is used to unblock the PIN.
    For more information about services that can be performed with citizen card refer to the portal do cidadao site.

    The new eID card aims at facilitating the life of citizens, in the sense that you can request am e gov service and sign documents on line 24X7, anywhere in the world, provided you have a card reader. No need to wait on lines or waste time and money on the traffic to go to a Public office to perform a government service.

  6. Hi Sayed,

    The card you got is probably not a Portuguese Citizen card, it is most probably an identity card for foreign nationals resident in Portugal, called a e Resident Permit.
    It actually has a chip built into the card body, but as the card bears a contactless chip, it is not visible on the surface. This chip technology is similar to the electronic passport technology.

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