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Passports & immigration

ID cards

ID cards will provide an easy and secure way for legal UK residents to prove who they are.

ID cards are the cornerstone of our national identity scheme, which calls for an easy to use and extremely secure system of personal identification for UK residents.

Each ID card will be unique, and will combine the cardholder’s biometric data with their checked and confirmed identity details - a ‘biographical footprint’. These identity details and the biometrics will be stored on the national identity register. Basic identity information will also be held in a chip on the ID card itself.

The cards will be linked to their owners by unique biometric information (for example, fingerprints). This is needed to ensure that your card is really yours, and to protect you from identity theft.


Our decision to introduce a national identity scheme was announced in the Queen's Speech on in May 2005. The Identity Cards Act (new window) received royal assent, becoming law, on 30 March 2006.

Cards rolling out

ID cards were rolled out for foreign nationals living in the UK in November 2008. We expect the first ID cards to be issued to British citizens in 2009.

More detailed information about ID cards

For more detailed information on the plans to introduce identity cards, visit the Identity and Passport Service website (new window).

See also

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Home Office websites