The identity of a person is usually verified when needed by presenting an identity document. Visible identity attributes such as a photo, eye color or distinctive features such as scars are compared in order to do this.

If such an ID document is lost, the person may have to apply for a new ID, for example by presenting a family register to the registrar. Before a certificate is issued, the certification authority may, by checking a submitted ID document, check the identity of the applicant.

The quality of this checking forms the basis of the quality of the certificate.

An e-mail address can, for instance, only be used as an identity attribute if steps are taken to ensure that the associated e-mail account is under the applicant's control. This check can be performed by sending and replying to a confirmation e-mail.  

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