The bill to update the rules regulating the issuing and use of the Macau Identity Card (Macau ID) passed yesterday in its first reading at the Legislative Assembly (AL).
The bill introduces changes to the card and the information contained in it. It also introduces the possibility of an electronic version of the ID for mobile phones, similar to other documents such as the driving license.
At the AL, the Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong, explained that, besides these new changes, the bill also eliminated the group studying the possibility of adding other information to the Macau ID.
He noted it becomes obsolete because the government has started to develop the Macao One Account platform, which combines information and functionalities from different services and purposes.
The changes should be enforced as soon as the new law is approved.
The new cards should be issued before the end of this year, Cheong said, noting that e-Card use for border crossings and health vouchers may start operation even earlier, during the third quarter of this year.
Responding to lawmakers’ inquiries, the Secretary also said that the change for the new system, which includes changes to IT equipment as well as readers and physical card models, is expected to cost 155 million patacas, of which 64 million is for software and hardware changes and 91 million is for the production of the physical cards.
Among the changes to the new cards is the removal of some information from the visible card, such as height, date of the first issuance and the code of the user’s birthplace, data that would move into the chip for reading when necessary.
Another of the changes includes adding the spouse’s name to the chip. The cards currently only state the marital status of the user. When needed currently, the spouse’s name must be requested via a certificate issued by the Identification Services Bureau (DSI), one formality that also ends once the new law comes into force.
Peak of ID changes between 2024- 2026
According to information provided by Cheong, residents will get the new version of the physical cards, which have only slight layout changes, when they need to renew their ID cards due to expiration, loss, or damage, as well as all newly issued cards from the time the new law comes into force.
The Secretary said that according to information collected by the DSI, the peak of the renewals of ID cards will happen between 2024 and 2026, a time that some 400,000 ID cards are expected to be changed due to expiration and renewal.
Cheong also said that with the electronic version of the cards, added convenience will be added although this version does not replace completely the use of the physical cards that, in some circumstances might still need to be read through a physical device.