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When wanting to learn the word for "ID card" I seem to find both "身份证" and "身分证".

They both have the same pronunciation "shēnfèn zhèng".

I don't think they differ by being traditional vs simplified?

What exactly is the difference? Can I use either one? Is it maybe regional?

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Not interchangeable. Only Taiwan uses "身分證", other places use "身份证/身份證". This is not an issue about traditional vs simplified either. For the pronunciation, you're right, they are both shēnfèn zhèng (@50-3 you may check the 重編國語辭典). –  Stan Feb 5 at 10:24
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On a search, I find 身分证 is only used in Taiwan. –  amateur Feb 5 at 17:39
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@amateur: So it looks pretty much to be regional orthographic (spelling) difference. –  hippietrail Feb 5 at 17:52
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+1 interesting. I will do some research on this and probably add the alt form to Wiktionary. –  deutschZuid Feb 5 at 21:04
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It's 身分証 in Japanese, so don't know if Japanese rule in Taiwan could have influenced the Taiwanese way of writing it. 份 is not in common use in Japan. –  dainichi Feb 6 at 2:11
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The character 分 has two different readings. As fen1, it has a range of meanings. As fen4, it can mean a role or part played by a person, a more general part or portion of something, or a component. Fen4 can also be written 份, and dictionaries I consulted from both Taiwan and the mainland don’t seem to differ here.

The Far East Chinese-English Dictionary, pretty much the standard bilingual dictionary in Taiwan, has the following: 身分證 or 身份證 shēnfènzhèng ‘ID card’.

The Chinese-English Dictionary from the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press is a mainland publication. It has 身分证 or 身份证 shēnfenzhèng ‘ID card’. This dictionary does one thing a bit differently – it divides the meanings of fen4 into those which can be written with either character and those which use only 分. In the latter category is 分外 ‘especially’. But this doesn’t affect the term for ID card.

There may be some cross-strait difference in actual usage between分 and 份 in this word, but as I have shown here, according to dictionaries both forms are acceptable wherever you are!

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In simplified, it's 身份证. http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-cn/%E8%BA%AB%E4%BB%BD%E8%AF%81

In traditional, it's 身分證. http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%BA%AB%E5%88%86%E8%AD%89

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No it's not... they're pronounced differently as well. –  50-3 Feb 5 at 9:26
    
Check your traditional link. It's 身份證 (not 身分證) –  amateur Feb 5 at 17:46
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