One ID, one number: What you need to know about the Phil ID system

Published August 5, 2020, 7:30 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Today, one can not leave home without an ID card.  Not only one, but two or even more if one is expecting to do official transactions.


Think about the many situations that require an ID card — at least two are needed for official transactions related to money, applying for a passport, for a job, for entry into a university.  Also when completing a bank transaction, making a purchase through a credit card, signing a notarized document, and applying for a government service or benefit.

That will change when the law creating one ID card for each citizen and resident alien will be implemented by the end of 2022.

That ID card will be known as the Phil ID and it will carry a “randomly generated” number assigned to each citizen or resident alien which is the PhilSys Number or the PSN. 

When the government completes the process of issuing the PSN and the Phil ID to each citizen and resident alien, that card will be the only one required for any transaction.

The Phil ID will have a QR code which will contain information about the person —  the PSN, full name, sex, date and place of birth, blood type, address, marital status (optional), front-facing photograph, fingerprints, mobile phone number (optional) and email address (optional). 

The Phil ID was established by Republic Act No. 11055, known as the “Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act enacted on August 6, 2018. Its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) was promulgated by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on October 5, 2018.

The PhilSys will be the government’s central identification platform for all citizens and resident aliens of the Philippines.

PSN, the number for life

Upon birth, or registration a randomly generated Philsys Number (PSN) will be assigned to the citizen or resident alien.

All the PSN numbers of all the registered persons — with the registered records and record history — will be contained in the PhilSys Registry. 

The individual’s record in the PhilSys shall be considered as an official and sufficient proof of identity.

One of the principal authors of the law, Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, said the Phil ID shall have a QR Code which shall include other security features to safeguard data privacy  and security, and prevent the proliferation of fraudulent or falsified identification. 

Other info in your data

“Only modifications/updates will be added as needed, like civil status, address and current photograph. No other information may be added to the ID.  All other relevant information regarding the person shall be kept in the repository of information, the Philippine Statistics Authority, the official agency in charge of compiling and protecting all data about every person.  Those information are subject to the protection of the Data Privacy Law,” Barbers explained. 

When a number is retired

What happens to a number when the person dies?  Barbers explained that the number is retired. “In the master list, the person assigned to that number will be declared “deceased”,” he said. 

It is not only death that causes the deactivation of the PSN.  According to the 25-page IRR, other situations that will cause deactivation are: 

  • Loss of Filipino citizenship; 
  • Loss of resident alien status;  
  • Failure to submit to initial biometric capture at age 5 for person who was registered at age 4 and below; 
  • Failure to submit to biometric capturing at age 15 for persons who were registered at age 14 and below; 
  • Death of the registered person; and 
  • A request from the registered person. 

“A deactivated PSN cannot be assigned to another person. Moreover, a person with a deactivated PSN shall not be given a new PSN,” the PSA guidelines state. 

Can you choose the numbers?

Those who have “lucky numbers” cannot choose the string of numbers that will hold their information for life. 

“The PSN shall not be predetermined or preassigned to any individual,” the agency explained. “Neither shall any individual be allowed to choose his or her PSN. No person shall have more than one PSN,’ it said.

What will the Phil ID give you?

Aside from having to produce only one ID for any transaction, the Phil ID also offers “accessible and seamless delivery of public and private services,”  former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., one of main proponents of RA No. 11055, said.


“The primary advantage of having a Phil ID is the ability to transact business in all government and private agencies and offices. The Phil ID is considered proof of identity. Thus, no other ID will be required to establish identity. Banks will honor the Phil ID without need for another proof of identity,” Barbers said.

“It will not override all other IDs and ID numbers, but it will be enough proof of one’s identity.  Every Filipino citizen will have a PhilID.  Those who have no passports, driver’s license, SSS (Social Security System), GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) need not worry and may transact business with only one ID, the Phil ID,” Barbers said.

Will not replace functional IDs

The PSA clarified that PhilSys will not replace existing functional IDs that serve other purposes. 

“For example, a passport is a travel document and a driving license is proof that someone can drive. Functional IDs such as these will remain the responsibility of the issuing government agencies,” it said.

Phil ID accepted here 

According to the PSA guidelines, the Phil ID and PSN shall be honored and accepted, subject to authentication, in all transactions requiring proof or verification of citizens or resident aliens’ identity, such as:

  • Application for eligibility and access to social welfare and benefits granted by the government;
  • Application for services and benefits offered by the GSIS, SSS, PhilHealth, HDMF, and other government agencies;
  • Application for passports and driver’s license;
  • Tax-related transactions;
  • Registration and voting identification purposes;
  • Admission to an government hospital, health center or similar institution;
  • Application for admission in schools, colleges, learning institutions and universities, whether public or private;
  • Application and transaction for employment purposes;
  • Application for opening of bank accounts and other transactions with banks and other financial institutions;
  • Application for clearances with  the appropriate government agencies; 
  • Other transactions requiring proof of identity. 

Order to expedite long-overdue ID system

In April, President Duterte directed  National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua to expedite the long-overdue implementation of the ID system, which seeks to register five million Filipinos within this year. 

The NEDA serves as the chairperson of the PhilSys Policy and Coordination Council (PSPCC), which is in charge of formulating policies and guidelines to ensure the effective implementation of the PhilSys.

Security features

Samar 1st district Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, one of main proponents of the PhilSys Law, said government has to ensure that safety features are in place to ensure that the scammers will not abuse the system, and that the design of the national ID complies with the international standard before it can start mass producing the IDs. 

Timeline for the new ID

As of now, the PSA is currently doing systems calibration and coordination with the different agencies and sectors to ensure seamless delivery come registration of at least 5 million low-income household heads starting 4th quarter this year,” the PSA said.

“A system is currently being developed to manage the number of people to be accommodated in a registration center, whether fixed or mobile,” it said. 

In coordination with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the local government units (LGUs), the PSA said it will identify provinces with low risks of possible COVID-10 outbreak  for possible registration venues. 

According to the PSA,  it aims to register majority of the Filipinos by the end of 2022 and will open the registration to the general public in 2021.

The journey of the national ID started decades ago during the time of President Ramos. The bill that was finally enacted into law was the consolidation of House Bill No. 6221 and Senate Bill No. 1738, which was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on May 30, 2018, and May 29, 2018, respectively.