The UK's identity card scheme will cost £5.4bn to set up and run over the next 10 years, according to the Government.
Home Office minister Liam Byrne announced the figure on Monday, establishing for the first time a governmental estimate for what will be one of the world's largest IT schemes.
The cards will store biometric data, a feature which will be introduced in passports from 2008, said Byrne. These data include fingerprint, iris and facial recognition information.
From 2010, anyone applying for or replacing a passport must also receive an ID card, although parliament will have to pass another law to make them compulsary for all citizens.
Byrne claimed that the cards would be a "powerful tool to combat identity fraud which underpins organised crime, terrorism and abuse of the immigration system". This perspective is opposed by civil liberties groups, who maintain that the scheme will be overly expensive and open to abuse.
The figure of £5.4bn covers the 10 years from this month to October 2016. Fifteen percent of the figure is technology-related, with the rest dealing with personnel and premises costs.
It differs markedly from previous estimates for the scheme's cost, such as that £19bn figure calculated by a team from the London School of Economics last year.
The Identity Cards Act was signed into law in March this year. Section 37 of the Act requires a cost estimate for the scheme to be presented to parliament once every six months.
The scheme acquired a new leader recently with the appointment of James Hall, a former managing partner at Accenture.