ESL and ID

ESL and Formal ID

esl and id

Formal ID is required for official business, such as opening a bank account. For expats travelling and studying in a foreign country, formal ID usually means your passport. It can quickly become burdensome having to carry your passport around everywhere you go. I remember that I had to have my passport with me at all times in Shanghai, for it was the only formal ID I could use as a foreigner.

Luckily in Toronto you can apply for a handy photo ID even if you are a visitor or on a working holiday to the city. The Service Ontario centre at 47 Sheppard Avenue East is the place that handles applications for international residents. It is important to note that not all Service Ontario centres are able to process applications for international students/workers. As far as I know, 47 Sheppard Avenue East is the only one that services international residents.

There is no need to make an appointment before you go. The application form can be viewed online:

You also don’t need to have filled out the form before you go. They have the forms there at the Centre. The fee is $35.

You need to show proof of the below three pieces of information:

  1. Name
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Signature

In order to do this, you should bring along the following:

  1. Passport
  2. Visitor record or study/work permit

Technically, just your passport would satisfy requirements for applying for the photo ID. But I would recommend bringing both of the above two items just in case. This is because one of the requirements is that you need to be a resident of Ontario to be eligible for the photo ID. And as a foreigner, your visa is your proof that you are living in Ontario for purposes of visit/study/work.


Do you know some of the common words referring to ID in English? Let’s review.

  1. Formal ID
  2. Photo ID
  3. Proof/Piece/Show of ID


As you can see, numbers 1-3 all have modifiers or words use to modify or change the meaning of ID, which is short for “identification”, in some way.

Formal” is an adjective that means official.

Photo” is a noun that is used as an adjective in this case and means containing a photo.

Proof of” is a prepositional phrase that means proof or evidence related to ID.

Show of” is a prepositional phrase that means a show or display related to ID.

Piece of” is a prepositional phrase that means a piece or small item related to ID.


Useful vocabulary for talking about ID:

  1. expat” is a shortened form of the word “expatriate”, which means a person living outside of their country of citizenship.Example: I am an expat and I usually need to show my passport as ID.


  1. resident” is a noun that describes someone living for a fixed period of time at a location. The location could be a building, city or country.Example: I am a resident in Toronto and I will be working here for one year.


  1. mean” is a verb that can be used to describe how you see something because of the situation you are in or who you are.Example: Because I am a student, ID means student ID for me.


  1. carry… around with me” is a phrase often used to mean you have the item with you whenever you go out.Example: I carry my ID around with me.


  1. have… with me at all times” is a another phrase often used to mean you have the item with you every time and everywhere.Example: I have my passport with me at all times.



How can foreigners apply for official IDs in your country?

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