Turkish authorities have started the distribution of new biometric identity cards in the Kirikkale province, selected as the pilot province for the program.
The new “smart” cards, which contain chips, will replace the old versions, which are bigger and contain no information beyond the basic facts printed on them.
It is the sixth change in the country’s national ID system since Ottoman times.
This month a European Commission progress report on Turkey fulfilling the requirements of the EU’s visa liberalization roadmap praised the new biometric cards.
The new biometric system will end the present different-colored card system -- pink for women and blue for men -- which Turks have been using for almost 40 years.
Governor Ali Kola applied for the new identity card on March 14 and received it on Tuesday, just over a week later, his office announced.
Biometric cards contain tight security standards to hinder duplication, falsification, and forgery.
According to the Electronic Authentication System’s website (ekds.org), the biometric cards will be able to hold up to 1 GB of information, including the user’s finger and palm prints.
The new cards will be valid for 10 years.
The move comes as Turkey is working to fulfill EU requirements toward lifting the visa regime with the Schengen zone countries. Turkey must fulfill 72 requirements in the visa roadmap, including issues such as migration management, public order, and security and issuing biometric identification documents -- passports and IDs -- containing fingerprints.
So far, 37 requirements have been completed and 35 still remain.
The visa-free travel is part of a broad agreement between Turkey and EU on refugee crisis signed last week in Brussels.