Asking for Identification (ID) and Information - English for Police

This page from our English for Police section covers language needed by police seeking IDs and information in an English-speaking context.

Example Sentences

  • May I see some photo ID?
  • Can I see your passport?
  • Driver's license, please.
  • Do you have your birth certificate?
  • How long have you been in the country?
  • Are you here for a holiday?
  • Do you have another piece of ID?

ID is different in every country

It is important to keep in mind that every country requires different documentation that proves someone's identification (ID). In many countries such as Greece and Spain a national ID card is compulsory. Citizens are expected to have these cards on them at all times. However, in other countries ID cards are not required. Police and officials in these countries often use another system to identify people, such as asking for two pieces of ID.

Types of ID

  • Passport
  • Government-issued Photo ID card
  • Driving licence/Driver's license
  • Birth certificate
  • Permanent residence card
  • Social security card
  • Medical/Health card
  • Voter registration card

Information/security items that may appear on documentation

word meaning
bar code a series of thick and thin black lines that holds computerized information
date of birth (DOB) date when the ID holder was born:
day/month/year: 23/05/1970 (23rd May 1970)
month/day/year: 05/23/1970 (23rd May 1970)
year/month/day: 1970/05/23 (23rd May 1970)
date of issue date when documentation was created
eye colour blue, brown, green, black, grey
fingerprint markings of a person's thumb or finger tip
height how tall a person is in centimetres or feet and inches
hologram a laser photograph which makes a picture or image look lifelike
magnetic stripe a long black stripe found on the back of a card that can be swiped into a computer for information
maiden name a woman's surname before marriage
marital status single, married, divorced (no longer married), separated, common law wife, common law husband
national status citizenship (native citizen, immigrant, landed immigrant, permanent resident, refugee)
photograph recent picture of ID holder
place of birth city, country where ID holder was born
profession current job (doctor, teacher, retired)
serial number or PIN (Personal Identification Number) number that can be entered into government systems to find information about a person
sex M (male), F (female)
signature hand-written name of ID holder
valid until, expiry date the last date when an ID document can be used

Reading Exercise: Identity Fraud

Try this reading exercise about identity fraud:

  1. read the vocabulary
  2. try to fill in the blanks
  3. check your answer
word meaning
ID fraud lying about one's identity
counterfeit fake, not real
illegal immigrants people who do not have government permission to live or work in a country
crack down on to put a real stop to
authentic real, true
identity theft stealing someone else's identity for personal use (or sale)
underground not publicly known, usually illegal
getting away with not getting caught by police or the authorities
controversy disagreement surrounding an issue

Today, is a major concern for police around the world. Many young people use ID to access adult venues, such as concerts and nightclubs. As police find new ways to fake ID (e.g. searching the Internet for companies), new technology is created to help make fraudulent ID look . ID cards with security measures, such as magnetic strips and barcodes, help to prevent people from fake ID. However, an even greater problem for police is the concern of . Some thieves make a profession out of stealing wallets, purses, or personal mail in order to sell new identities to criminals or . There is great over whether or not all countries should opt for national ID cards. Some people do not think that the police should have access to such personal information, while others think it would help to prevent crime and illegal immigration.

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