The Ministry of Interior urges approximately 700,000 citizens, who have yet to apply for a new identification card after theirs expired during 2022-2023, to do so promptly.

These individuals are invited to re-register at all identification service locations, which reopened to the public on July 25 following the electoral break.

Say Meng Chheang, deputy director-general and spokesperson for the General Department of Identification (GDI) at the Ministry of Interior, explained that Cambodian identity cards have a validity period of 10 years.

He explained that an estimated 1.7 million identity cards lapsed between 2022 and 2023. Of those, one million have already been replaced, leaving a remaining 700,000 that need renewal. This count includes groups such as migrant workers, prisoners, the deceased and Buddhist monks.

Looking to the future, Meng Chheang anticipates a significant number of identity cards reaching their expiration date. The projection for 2024 is over one million, more than three million by 2025, and over two million in 2026, all of which will require renewal.

Stressing the importance of these documents, he said: "The nationality ID card is a necessary tool for people's daily life. Failing to renew or overlooking it can seriously impact an individual when it's needed".

Over the years, the ministry and GDI have made concerted efforts to promote the renewal process. They have published instructions, notices and appeals, encouraging people to apply for their ID card.

A series of campaigns have been initiated to facilitate the issuance of these cards at capital and provincial administrative offices and police commissariats.

Meng Chheang confirmed that all identification service locations have resumed normal services to assist citizens.

"We strongly encourage citizens who are 15 years or older, or those whose ID card has either expired or will expire within the next 90 days, to apply for a new one," he urged.

Citizens can complete the form for a new ID at commune police stations, municipal or district police inspectorates of their permanent residence, or at the GDI. No payment is required for an ID card. For queries, citizens can reach out on the hotline 1271 or 017 898 915 during working hours, Monday to Friday.

Pa Chanroeun, head of the NGO Cambodian Institute for Democracy, praised the new version of the ID card for its enhanced security features, aligning with the latest technology and the needs of citizens.

However, he expressed some reservations about the overall quality of ID cards. He underscored that it is a crucial national document and the manufacturing process should involve superior quality materials.

"The identity card holds a significant place as one of the nation's key official documents, and we should opt for top-grade materials in their production," he said.

Chanroeun urged the interior ministry and the corresponding agencies to improve the standard of the ID cards. He pointed out problems with the prior editions, which had a short lifespan, often becoming unfit for use as they faded and disintegrated rapidly.

Addressing these concerns, Meng Chheang acknowledged that the past versions of ID cards had quality issues. He reassured that continual improvements have been made to ensure the longevity of the cards. However, he emphasised that their durability also relies on how well people take care of them, as factors like exposure to water or poor storage can damage them.

He reassured citizens that the GDI would continue to replace damaged ID cards free of charge.

"We are here to assist those who encounter problems with their cards. We remain committed to providing new ones at no cost to the people," he assured.