How to Interpret and Use Common Iranian ID Numbers
Effective due diligence in Iran requires that investigators understand how to identify, interpret, and effectively use Iranian official identification numbers. Iranian ID numbers help you target your public records searches more effectively, distinguish between multiple people with the same name, determine the true legal names of companies, and more.
What are the Primary Iranian Identification Numbers for Companies?
The two most common types of identification numbers disclosed in public records for legal entities in Iran are the Registration Number (شماره ثبت, shomareh sabt) and the National ID Number (شناسه ملی, shomareh melli).
Iranian Registration Number
The Registration Number is a two to six-digit code assigned at the time of company registration. Registration numbers are unique within—but not across—Iran’s 31 provinces; therefore, multiple different Iranian companies registered in different provinces can have the same registration number. Prior to 1989, this was the primary identification number for Iranian companies.
Iranian National ID Number
The National ID Number was introduced in 1989 to provide a single unique identifier for every legal entity in Iran, including both private and public companies, financial institutions, branch offices, and quasi-governmental agencies, as well as international companies registered to do business in Iran. It is always 11 digits.
What are the Primary Iranian Identification Numbers for Individuals?
The most common types of identification numbers disclosed in public records for natural persons in Iran are the National ID Number (شناسه ملی, shenaseh melli) and the Passport Number (شماره پاسپورت, shomareh passport).
Iranian National ID Number
The National ID Number is by far the most commonly available unique ID number for individuals in Iranian public records. They have 10 digits, as distinct from the 11-digit company National ID Numbers.
National ID Numbers were introduced for individuals as well as companies in 1989. The Interior Ministry issues a unique National ID Number to every Iranian citizen or non-citizen permanent resident of Iran over the age of 15, as part of the required National ID Card (کارت ملی, kart-e melli).
Iranian Passport Number
Passport numbers are unique for all Iranian citizens. They are rarely disclosed on Iranian public records but may appear as identifiers for Iranian citizens in ownership or control positions in companies abroad.
How to Recognize Iranian ID Numbers in Public Records
Even non-Persian speakers easily can recognize Iranian ID numbers in public records documents. ID numbers are most commonly disclosed in Iran’s Official Gazette (روزنامه رسمی جمهوری اسلامی ایران, Rooznameh Rasmi) and the National Identity Registry of Legal Entities or ILENC (سامانه شناسه ملی اشخاص حقوقی کشور).
Finding ID Numbers in the Iranian Official Gazette
The Iranian Official Gazette typically, but not always, discloses National ID Numbers for individuals and both National ID and Registration Numbers for companies. The company announcements published in the gazette are self-reported and formatted as blocks of narrative text, which allows for some meaningful variation. That said, announcements tend to follow a pattern that can help analysts identify relevant ID numbers.
The primary company’s National ID and/or Registration Number typically appears in the announcement title. Any related companies—such as shareholders or directors—will have their ID numbers present in the main text only. Similarly, individual ID numbers will appear in the main text only.
Announcements typically list the name of the individual or the company immediately followed by one or more ID numbers. The name and ID will appear with a key phrase, such as “with this national ID” or “با شناسه ملی”. The Persian words for “code” (کد), “number” (شماره), and “ID” (شناسه) can be used interchangeably. The full phrase would look like this: “Ali Reza with national ID // علی رضا با شناسه ملی”.
Finding ID Numbers in ILENC
ILENC does not provide individual data but discloses both National ID and Registration Numbers for Iranian companies. Each ILENC record, which corresponds to a unique company, is highly structured with consistent fields for the National ID Number labeled “شناسه ملي” and the Registration Number labeled “شماره ثبت”.
Watch Out for Errors in ID Number Disclosures
Because the company announcements published in the Iranian Official Gazette are self-reported, they sometimes include typos and other inaccuracies. Common data quality issues involving ID numbers include:
- Typos. Typos sometimes appear in the identification numbers recorded in gazette announcements. These often take the form of transposed or missing digits, usually the first or last.
- Individual ID numbers disclosed for companies, and vice versa. Occasionally individuals will disclose an incorrect but valid ID number on gazette announcements by providing the ID number of an associated company instead of their own ID number.
ILENC data tends to have fewer inconsistencies. Both the Registration and National ID Numbers are provided on the ILENC filing for every Iranian company.
Here are a few quick tips for identifying errors in ID number disclosures and working around them:
- Make sure the ID number has the correct number of digits. For example, if a given National ID number for a person is more or less than 10 digits (or 11 for companies), there has been an error.
- Compare ID numbers across different sources. Ideally, for companies, make sure ID numbers disclosed in the Iranian Official Gazette match the ID numbers disclosed on the corresponding ILENC record. For individuals, or any other cases where that’s not possible, see if the ID number has been disclosed on multiple different gazette filings.
Remember that errors happen, especially in gazette filings! Don’t immediately assume that two companies with identical names and identical ID numbers except for one digit are different. Spend some extra time on those close disambiguations.
What if I Only Have a Company Registration Number?
Since Registration Numbers are not wholly unique, it is always best to try to find an Iranian company’s National ID Number.
If you have a Registration Number and want to find the corresponding National ID Number, try searching for the Registration Number in ILENC. Registration Numbers are unique within each of Iran’s 31 provinces. You may return multiple hits in different provinces, but if you have the company’s full name and/or location, you likely will be able to determine which is correct.
Keep in mind that the company name may appear differently in ILENC than in the Iranian Official Gazette, on a company website, or in the media. ILENC will provide the full legal name. Other sources, including the gazette, may provide the full legal name but may use an abbreviation or non-standard format instead.