On Thursday, 12 January, the Saeima adopted in the final reading amendments to the Personal Identification Documents Law, according to which a new type of personal identification document – the identity card – will be introduced in Latvia and will be broadly accepted instead of the passport.
Ainars Latkovskis, Chairman of the Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee, which is responsible for the Draft Law, emphasises that the new identity cards will be beneficial, especially for frequent travellers. The cards will be accepted as valid travel documents throughout the European Union member states and the Schengen area.
The ID cards will contain electronic information enabling electronic verification of the holders’ identities. Furthermore, the new ID cards will enable their holders to use the electronic signature. The electronic ID cards will not be mandatory, which means that a person may choose whether to receive a passport, an ID card, or both.
The new Law stipulates that in situations where a Latvian citizen or non-citizen has lost his or her passport abroad, the electronic ID card can be used as a travel document for the return journey. It will be no longer necessary to apply to a Latvian embassy for a return certificate.
The Cabinet of Ministers will stipulate the amount and contents of the information to be included in the electronic ID card, the procedures for issuing, enabling, disabling and renewing the cards, as well as limitations on their use.
The electronic ID cards will also serve as residence permits for foreigners, stateless persons, refugees, persons who have been granted alternative status or temporary protection, as well as citizens and non-citizens of third countries who have acquired the status of permanent residents of the European Union.
The new Personal Identification Documents Law still contains the provisions regarding permanent and temporary documents to be issued in Latvia, as well as the provisions regarding passports. Likewise, the provisions on the obligations of holders of personal identification documents or temporary documents, the provisions on the procedures for returning and receiving such documents and the provisions on their validity have been retained from the previous version of the Law.
Saeima Press Service