Onfido logo home page
Watch a demo
Get in touch
Arrow back Back to guides

General introduction

Start here

If you haven't signed up with us yet, get in touch to get the right account for you. If you have any questions please email our Client Support team.

This is an introduction to the Onfido product and technology.

This guide will:

  • provide an overview of the Onfido API and check creation
  • introduce the Onfido input-capture SDK(s)
  • explain the key terms in Onfido's identity verification technology

You'll find more detailed information about integrating with Onfido in our 'Get started integrating' guide.

Onfido API

The Onfido API allows you to submit verification checks programmatically, and is based on REST principles. It uses standard HTTP response codes and verbs, and token-based authentication.

Diagrammatic Overview

By default, checks have the following basic workflow:

  1. An applicant is created.
  2. Documents and images are uploaded to the applicant object (if required).
  3. A check is constructed consisting of one or more reports.

For details of how to create a check containing a Document report and a Facial Similarity report read our Quick Start: API v3 guide.

Onfido input-capture SDKs

The Onfido SDKs are a set of Software Development Kits that provide a secure, accessible document and face capture flow for your apps. They are optimized to help you successfully verify users in a way that is both fraud-proof and compliant.

Onfido SDKs are available on iOS, Android and Web. They provide a drop-in set of screens and tools for mobile applications, as well as components for JavaScript applications. These allow your app to capture identity documents, selfies and live videos for identity verification.

The SDKs offer a number of benefits to help you create the best onboarding and identity verification experience for your customers:

  • carefully designed UI to guide your customers through the entire photo and video-capture process
  • modular design to help you seamlessly integrate the photo and video-capture process into your application flow
  • advanced image quality detection technology to ensure the quality of the captured images meets the requirement of the Onfido identity verification process, guaranteeing the best success rate
  • direct image upload to the Onfido service, to simplify integration*

* Note: the SDK is only responsible for capturing and uploading photos/videos. You still need to access the Onfido API to create and manage checks.

Face Check Doc Video Diagram

You'll find more detailed information about creating a check with the Onfido SDKs in our quick start guides for iOS/Android and Web.



In the Onfido API, an applicant is the representation of an end user.

An applicant is the individual who will be the subject of a check. Creating an applicant is the first step towards initiating a check. Without an applicant a check cannot be completed.

Required applicant data differs depending on report type within a check.


In the Onfido API a check is a request to carry out one or more reports on an applicant.

A check consists of one or more reports. A report cannot exist without a check to contain it. The outcome of a check is derived from the results of the individual reports that it contains.


In the Onfido API a report is a single verification request, such as a Document Report or Facial Similarity Photo report.

There are a number of different report types. Depending on the type of check you wish to perform, different information will be required when you create an applicant.

For example, to complete a check on an applicant with only a Document report, a document will be required, whereas to complete a check with both a Document report and a Facial Similarity Photo report, a document and a live photo will be required.


In the Onfido API, a document is the upload of a required document provided by an applicant.

Documents are associated with an applicant in the Onfido API. The type of document required depends on the individual reports which make up the check.

You can review our full list of supported documents.

Live photo

In the Onfido API, a live photo is an image of the applicant’s face.

A live photo is required in order to perform a Facial Similarity Photo report on the applicant. A live photo is typically taken by an applicant at the same time as documents are provided.

Live video

In the Onfido API, a live video is footage of the applicant’s face, recorded and uploaded by the Onfido SDKs (iOS, Android or Web).

A live video is used to perform a Facial Similarity Video report on the applicant. During the video recording end users are asked to perform randomly generated actions. These include a combination of recital—i.e. saying 3 randomly generated digits—and movement, i.e. looking over their right or left shoulder.

A live video is typically taken by an applicant at the same time as documents or live photos are provided.


Our Solutions

Onfido uses 256-bit SSL encryption 100% of the time on every device.


Onfido has been certified by BSI to ISO 27001 under certificate number IS 660122.

© Onfido™, 2020. All rights reserved.
Company Registration Number: 07479524.