Identification numbers in Republic of Slovenia

Mag. Rosana Lemut Strle, Deputy information officer of Republic of Slovenia

The dilemma about whether it is better/safer to use only one identification number, which completely defines an individual or more for different fields – from the point of view of the safety of personal data – is still present in Slovenia. New debates open periodically about whether it makes sense to process all data in all the records in the public sector on the basis of one identification number, stating that this would simplify the running of records in the public sector or, on the other hand, whether it is more appropriate to keep the different identification numbers. In Slovenia – as it was already stated – we do not have only one and final answer to this question, however, I can present the history of the initiative of uniform identification numbers, namely the reasons which led the legislator to accept the current regulatory framework.

In Republic of Slovenia, individuals have got three personal identification numbers, which define us completely, namely the personal identification number, tax number and the health insurance number.

The uniform personal identification number was introduced in 1976 in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia [then] and is still in use nowadays in Slovenia. The personal identification number is assigned uniformly by the controller of the Central population register for all the inhabitants of Republic of Slovenia, including the foreign citizens. It is assigned on the basis of the individual’s seven figured date of birth and gender. The numbers in one’s personal identification number from the first to seventh position are: the date of birth – to digits for the day, two digits for the month and a three-digital year of birth [the last three digits of the year]. The eighth and ninth position are taken by the number of the register. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth position represent the serial number and the thirteenth position is for the control number. The personal identification number is in general the most used identification number for processing personal data in databases in Slovenia – in the educational system, social security, for issuing official documents, in the records of voting right, police records …

The tax number was introduced in Slovenia in 1995 with the Tax procedure Act[1] which nowadays states that the tax number is appointed to the person liable for tax and is being used regarding all taxes. It is being used to uniformly define a taxpayer and for connecting data in the records controlled by the Tax Administration of Republic of Slovenia and Customs Administration of Republic of Slovenia. The tax number consists of eight digits – seven of them are randomly chosen while the eight is calculated on the module 11. The first seven positions are the basic number, which is chosen at random from a set of numbers from 1,000,000 to 9,999,999, and the eight position is the control number calculated according to module 11[2].

The tax number is used every time we address a tax authority with an application or a question; the tax records are based on it. Due to the fact that the tax number was introduced in 1995 alongside the personal identification number, it has become inevitable in the procedures of decision-making – at least in a certain stage of the procedure – to access to and use the personal identification number as well - for the purpose of acquiring personal data of taxpayers from other records (e.g. from the central population register for assessing whether an individual is liable for taxes Slovenia). The idea of using only one uniform identification number for the procedures regarding taxes was therefore not carried out consistently; therefore Tax Administration of Republic of Slovenia today in the tax register has not only the tax number but also the personal identification number[3].

The third identification number is the health insurance number. It was introduced in 1992 with the Health Care and Health Insurance Act [4] with the purpose of defining a uniform identification in the public health system. It is defined by the holder of compulsory health insurance. It is being used regarding ascertaining the entitlement to medical services as well as assuring them and charging them within the obligatory health insurance. It was seen as a number, which would be used by the insured persons, those offering the medical services in the public health system and the provider of the compulsory health insurance, namely the Health Insurance Institute of Republic of Slovenia. The records of this institute are based on the health insurance number, however because the Health Insurance Institute in its procedures inevitably needs also the data from other official records (e.g. the data about one’s residence, the data about the payment of contribution for the obligatory health insurance etc.) it has been proven in practice that only this identification number is not enough to administer the legal competences and tasks of the Health Insurance Institute. Therefore the Institute according to the valid law on health care and health in its records processes all three identification numbers[5]. Enabling the exchange of personal data among the official records is the reason why all three identification numbers are also in the Central Population Register[6].

The idea of using special identification numbers exclusively for individual fields – the field of taxes and the field of medical services in the public health system – has not been realized completely, but at least to a large extent. The tax authorities use only the tax number to communicate with the person liable for tax within their procedures and those providing medical services in the public health system use only the health insurance number to communicate with the insured person and the provider of the compulsory health insurance. Such an arrangement makes it difficult to easily connect data on an individual's personal status (residence, marital status, number of children …), his/her property and health status to all who are not familiar with all three of his/her identification numbers. Those who are familiar with them, because they keep them in their records in accordance with the law, can of course use them only for carrying out their legal jurisdictions. We could say that such a solution is more favorable to the protection of privacy and personal data. The competent authorities have data that they need while all others can access only to “parts” of an individual’s identity. The Slovenian regulation seems difficult and hard to carry out, thus the ideas about cancelling the personal identification number reappear from time to time. The personal identification number is generally “the least desired” identification number. It gives away a lot of our personal data in its structure (the date of birth, gender, and still following the historical pattern from the ex-Yugoslavia the nationality as well …), while the tax number and the health insurance number, are actually only numbers. Regardless of this, there are not any serious reservations regarding the valid legislation which would start a legislative initiative.

Slovenia – as a country with a bit more than two million inhabitants – has to be even more attentive to their privacy and protection of personal data. The more inhabitants there are the better they can “hide” in the crowd as individuals and the less broad circles of acquaintances which can include whole settlements they have etc. It is easier to protect one’s privacy in bigger communities than in smaller. Therefore it is important to ensure that individuals in smaller communities have an efficient opportunity to keep for themselves the data that they do not want to share – even before the state authorities, when these data aren’t necessary for carrying out their jurisdictions. 

[1] Tax Procedure Act  (Official Gazette RS, 13/2011).

[2] The procedure of calculating the control number:

  • each individual number of the basic number is multiplied by unchangeable  ponders  8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2,
  • the results of multiplication are then added up,
  • the result is divided by 11,
  • the remainder of the division is deducted from 11 and the difference is the control number. If the remainder of the division is 1 and the difference is therefore 10, the control number is 0. If the remainder of the division is 0 and the difference is therefore 11, this basic number is excluded from the set of possible tax numbers.

[3] Article 41 of Tax Administration Act (Official Gazette, 57/04).

[4] Health Care and Health Insurance Act (Official Gazette RS, 9/92).

[5] Article 79.a of Health Care and Health Insurance Act .

[6] Article 11 Of Central Population Register Act (Official Gazette RS, 1/99).