Can I see your identification?

Katrina Doolen
Many things we do now require us to show identification. Identification is often used to prove who we are. We also often have to prove our age. A driver's licence is the most commonly requested type of identification. But many people with a disability do not have a licence. Often other types of identification are not accepted. I think people with a disability need more options. There should be better alternatives to a licence that are widely accepted around Australia.
Posted by: 
Katrina Doolen on 05/10/2011
A sample of a Victorian driver's licence with a photograph of a young woman

Many people with a disability do not have a drivers licence for identification

People require identification for many different reasons. Sometimes we need to prove our age or who we are. A driver's licence is the most commonly requested type of identification. It is assumed that everyone has a licence. But many people with a disability don't have one. Often other types of identification are not accepted.

Some common reasons for needing identification include:

  • Opening a bank account
  • Collecting registered mail
  • Buying pharmacy-only medication
  • Applying for a passport
  • Buying a mobile phone
  • Obtaining entry into venues.

Many paid and volunteer positions also now require a police check or a Working with Children's Check card. To obtain the checks, a number of different items to prove your identity are needed.

Kate's experience

Kate is a good example of someone who has had problems because of a lack of a driver's licence. Kate and her husband applied for their new passports on the same day. The post office would not accept Kate's application because she did not have a licence. This was despite having sufficient other forms of identification, including her old passport. Kate had to apply directly to the passport office. Kate's new passport finally arrived six weeks after her husband's.

Other alternatives

Without a driver's licence it is harder to collect the required number of points often required to prove your identity. Some people keep renewing their driver's licence even when they do not drive anymore. This is so they can still use it for identification. But there are alternative types of identification.

For photo identification, some people use a Working with Children's Check card. People with low vision often use their Vision Impaired Travel Pass. Other people use their birth certificate or passport. But passports are expensive and take time to obtain. Fortunately, sometimes expired passports may be accepted as identification.

Some disability consumer organisations offer their members a photo identity card. Blind Citizens Australia's Identity card is valid for three years. To apply members need to provide their pension type and number. This card is more widely accepted for identification than it used to be. It is worth 25 points out of the necessary 100 when opening a bank account.


There are also forms of photo identification that anyone can apply for. The Keypass card is available from Victorian police stations. To apply you need a number of pieces of identification. You only have to renew it when your details change or the card becomes badly damaged.

Keypass is widely accepted in Victoria, including when opening bank accounts. It can be used interstate but isn't accepted everywhere.

A Victorian driver's licence is accepted as identification without question interstate. But other forms of photo identification are often questioned or refused. I do not think this is fair. It discriminates against people who cannot drive.

Other options

What is needed is a photo identification card that is accepted Australia-wide. The card should be equal to a driver's licence. Anyone should be able to apply for it. Perhaps there should be a national version of the New South Wales Photo Card.

Other options for people with a disability could include a photo card issued as part of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Disability Support Pension card could also be upgraded to include a photo and date of birth.

Readers comments (2)

Absolutely! Also, a lot of people (with or without disabilities) have simply not chosen to learn to drive a car. Keypass (or an equivalent) should be given the same weight as a driver's licence. There is nothing special about driving a car, that means that other forms of photo ID should count for less. These kinds of rules often don't add up!

My sister is intellectually disabled and needs 100 points to walk dogs. She doesn't have it because she doesn't have an ID card. Very inconvenient.

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