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The INSEE code is a numerical indexing code used by the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) to identify various entities, including communes, départements. They are also used as national identification numbers given to people.
Although today this national identification number is used by social security in France and is present on each person's social security card (carte Vitale), it was originally created under Vichy France under the guise of the Registration Number to the National Directory of Identification of Physical People (Numéro d'inscription au répertoire des personnes physiques, NIRPP or simply NIR). The latter was originally to be used as a clandestine military recruitment tool, but at the end served to identify Jews, gypsies and other "undesirable" populations under Vichy's conceptions. The first digit of the NIR was 1 for a male European, 2 for a female European, 3 for a male Muslim, 4 for a female Muslim, 5 for a male Jew, 6 for a female Jew, 7 for a male foreigner, or 8 for a female foreigner. 9 and 0 were reserved for persons of undetermined racial status.
The Demographic Service had been created in 1940 in order to replace the military recruitment office prohibited by the June 1940 Armistice with Nazi Germany. On October 11, 1941, the Demographic Service absorbed the former General Statistics of France (SGF, created in 1833). The new organization was called the National Statistical Service (Service national des statistiques, SNS).
Each French person receives at birth a national identification number, the "numéro d'inscription au répertoire" (NIR or National Repertory registration), also called a "numéro de sécurité sociale" (or Social Security number). This INSEE number is composed of 13 digits + a two-digit key. Although the total number is of 15 digits, its composition makes it easy for individuals to remember at least the first seven digits (they just have to know their sex, year and month of birth, and department of birth). Since this number is used in many administrative procedures (whether by the state or by private enterprises), most people know by memory part of this identification number.
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