The Interim Constitution of Nepal guarantees a right to identity as one of its fundamental rights.1 Legal identity documents confirm the state’s acknowledgement of a person’s existence. In Nepal, there are many types of
identity documents, such as birth registration certificates, passports, voter identity cards, minors’ ID cards, migration certificates, freed Kamaiya identity cards, land ownership certificates, driving licenses and citizenship certificates.
However, it is the citizenship certificate which is considered the most important formal legal document, and it is often a prerequisite for obtaining other identity documentation in Nepal. Without citizenship certificates, individuals
cannot register on the voters’ list,2 register marriages or births, buy or sell land, take professional exams, open bank accounts or have access to credit.3 The importance of a citizenship certificate cannot be underestimated. In particular,
it is the document by which citizens obtain recognition from the state. It allows a citizen to exercise his/her rights and claim for state protection and social benefits.