Formal Identification: A Regional and Constitutional Obligation
In Uganda, the national identification project is a statutory requirement under the East African Common Market Protocol. This Protocol requires all member states of the East African Community, namely, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania to process National Identity Cards for their nationals. The national identity card is a document that is presumed to facilitate easy movement among the member states of the East African Community.
According to Article 18 of the Constitution of Uganda, the state shall register every birth, marriage and death occurring in Uganda.
National Identification and Registration Authority: The Legal Background
Section 4 of The Registration of Persons Act establishes NIRA as a body corporate. Section 5 of the Act mandates NIRA to among other things, create, manage, maintain and operate the National Identification Register, to register citizens of Uganda, to register non-citizens of Uganda, to register births and deaths and to assign a unique national identification number to every person registered in the register.
Effective 1st January 2016, the transfer of births, deaths and adoption orders’ registration was transferred from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) according to a joint press release.
Only Marriage (URSB Mandate) and divorce registration (Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs) have remained outside the mandate of NIRA, as per the Registration of Persons Act 2015.
These mandate(s) of NIRA are actualised via Sections 29 (Registration of births), 42 (Registration of death), 62 (National Identification Register) and 69 (National Identification Card) of the The Registration of Persons Act.
Cooperation With Other Agencies
According to Section 6 of the Act, NIRA is obliged to cooperate with other government ministries, departments and agencies in the implementation of responsibilities, in the Act.
There is a National Identification Register which is centrally located under the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and it feeds into different national databases for service delivery.
Through access to the National Identification Register, relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies can generate passports (Ministry of Internal Affairs), identity cards (NIRA), driver’s licenses (Ministry of Works and Transport), tax identification numbers (Uganda Revenue Authority), voter register (Electoral Commission) and vital statistics (Uganda Bureau of Statistics).
Process of Registration for a National I.D
The national identity card is issued free of charge except if it is misplaced or damaged. Then, the owner is charged an appropriate fee, as prescribed by the Minister in charge.
The legally recognised identity documents (according to The Registration of Persons Act), which can be referred to for the purposes of registration include birth certificate; baptism certificate; immunization card; a voter’s identification card; an immigration document; a valid Uganda or foreign passport or a document that may be used in place of a passport; a valid driving licence; a valid residence permit; or a certificate of acquired citizenship.
The NIRA website has prescribed forms for the purposes of Registration of Persons, Births and Deaths, accessible here https://www.nira.go.ug/home under the ’Services and Forms’ tab, which can be handed in at designated registration areas which include government, missionary and industrial hospitals, town councils, among others.