The Challenges and requirements in Citizen identity for Portugal

The Portuguese Citizen Card, produced by INCM, has been designed for the following purposes :

  • Easy-to-use physical and electronic document that allows the identification of the citizens through diverse communication channels with the Public Administration and Private Entities
  • Support physical and electronic interaction, attended or not, guaranteeing the equivalent security level and legal value of the more traditional ways of actual identification
  • True certification of citizenship, combining two forms of identification :  on one hand, the physical document that identifies the appearance while the citizen is present, replacing various official documents that have been in use on the other hand a digital identity that enables the citizen to identify himself remotely without physical presence and use his legally valid digital signature in his interaction with public and private entities.
  • Additionally, the Citizen Card allows to reduce the number of interactions with the main  Public Instances.

The key enabler to the electronic use of the Citizen Card has been the introduction of the Zetes multiplatform Middleware, currently freely downloadable on the official government website (

Implemented Solution in Citizen electronic identity

The Citizen Card international standards:

  • ISO/IEC 7810
  • ISO/IEC 7816
  • European Citizen Card – CEN TC224 WG15
  • ICAO 9303 Part 3 for MRTD

The Zetes middleware solution fully supports this standards-based card and has been designed in a very flexible and modular way. The related Zetes support services towards citizens, companies and application developers is aimed at promoting new applications.

The key components of the Zetes middleware:

  • A standard cryptographic functional block
  • An interaction layer enabling integration of different electronic ID cards
  • Compatibility with different Operating Systems (Microsoft, Linux, MacOSX, …)
  • Read & interpret citizen data specific for the Portugal Ministries required
  • Graphical User Interface : very user-friendly (Zetes best practice)

Solution Benefits

With this modular and multiplatform Portuguese Citizen Card middleware and related support services, the following goals have been reached :

  • ease of installation : basically any citizen is now able to download and install
  • ease of use : basically any citizen is able to use
  • compatibility with different operating systems and environments

MIC and UCMA, under the authority of The Portuguese government, have laid out an ambitious e-government program the last couple of years.

One of the cornerstones of this program has been the introduction of a multifunctional electronic ID card for all citizens above 16 years old combining several actual physical documents on one hand, and introducing the electronic identity and related digital signature on the other hand.

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