What do you take out when asked to show a photo ID? Your NRIC or driver’s licence?
For some, it would be the SAF Card, or more commonly known as the 11B.
For the uninitiated, the 11B is an identity card used by SAF personnel. Why 11? Because there are 11 basic items of information on the card. This includes:
- NRIC number
- Blood group
- Birth date
- Country of birth
- Service Status
- Military Rank Status
The first SAF card was issued in the 1960s. Watch this video to see its evolution.
So, where are these cards produced?
Yup, at CMPB, the same place that pre-enlistees come for medical screening!
Turns out, all that is needed to cope with the large number of enlistees annually are some computers and a few sets of printers that look like this:
Blank cards would first be slotted into the machine.
The machine would then be heated up to a certain temperature before it can start printing and laminating the cards.
Fun fact: Photos used to be printed on the lamination itself. That was why when the plastic started to peel, the photo came right off with it. Today, photos are printed directly onto the cards, which means you would be stuck with the same photo as long as you have the card. So you better hope you are not having a bad hair day when you take the photo.
The cards would then be collected from the slot below.
It takes about an hour to print 100 cards or just 36 seconds for each one!
When enlisted, NSFs exchange their NRICs for an 11B. And you know what? They don’t get to see it until the last day of their National Service! And if the NSF decides to sign on? He doesn’t get his NRIC back until he leaves the service.
But that might not be a bad thing. Not only would there be a smaller chance of losing your NRIC, there are also privileges which come with the card.
Look out for this label in shops and stores around Singapore because it means that there are exclusive discounts and promotions for those with an 11B! Show the shopkeepers your card and see what you might just get.
Cover picture and photos by Danny Ng.
This article was first published in ConnexionSG.