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September 28, 2018

Municipal ID cards: What are they? Who will want one — or need one?

Philadelphia will begin issuing municipal IDs in early 2019

Government Identification
Philadelphia City Hall  and philly Skyline Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

City Hall and the Philadelphia skyline.

Philadelphia’s City Council approved legislation Thursday for the city to start offering municipal identification cards this coming January.

The cards are expected to cost somewhere around $10 to $15, according to the Philadelphia Tribune, although the final fees and prices aren’t yet clear. 

What’s clear is that the cards, which have already been adopted in cities across nine other states, including New Jersey, are coming to Philadelphia.

So, what exactly is a municipal ID card?

A municipal ID card does the same job as a driver’s license or a state ID card: It identifies you in the eyes of the government. The card will display the holder’s name, photograph, and date of birth, the Tribune reported. 

Essentially, the card proves that you live in the specified city. In this case, the card will prove you live in Philadelphia.

Why would someone prefer a municipal ID to a state ID card?

Government identification is important, but it’s not always easily accessible, especially to those who may need it the most. 

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez told the Tribune this municipal ID program was borne out of concerns for undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable residents, like people suffering from addictions or recently-released prisoners.

Joanna Otero-Cruz, deputy managing director of community services for the city, told WHYY back in August the cards could also be used by the homeless to help them gain access to services — like bank accounts — for which they otherwise wouldn’t have proper identification.

In short: The municipal ID card will be cheaper than a state ID, and it will be much easier to acquire and much more accessible to communities in need of official identification.

What do you need in order to get a municipal ID?

1. Proof of residency in the city of Philadelphia. A utility bill, a property tax statement, a bank account statement, or verification from a homeless shelter or domestic violence/sexual assault shelter will suffice.

2. Proof of identity and age. One of a U.S. or foreign passport, a U.S. permanent resident card, a current visa, or a U.S. or foreign birth certificate will suffice.

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