UK citizens will be able to use their ID cards to travel to Europe, raising the possibility that they could eventually replace passports, according to the Identity and Passport Service.
Speaking on Friday at the Home Office, Identity and Passport Service (IPS) officials said that, in theory, the biometric ID cards could also be used for identification purposes when travelling beyond the EU, if the UK can reach agreements with other countries.
With the cost of a new passport currently standing at £72, the £30 ID card might become a preferred option for people only wanting to travel within the EU.
The possibility emerged during a press briefing covering the secondary legislation, announced on Friday, for the National Identity Scheme.
The legislation is in addition to the framework set out by the Identity Cards Act 2006 and includes proposals around the procedures for issuing ID cards, including who will be eligible and how the data on the National Identity Register — the database housing the ID information — will be maintained.
The Home Office has put forward the legislation for public consultation until 13 February next year, after which it will be put before parliament.
The National Identity Scheme begins on 25 November, when non-EEA foreign nationals will start to be issued with ID cards.
However, IPS officials added that this month's rollout is part of the UK Borders Act 2007, rather than the Identity Card Act 2006, although the cards may be designated as part of the National ID Register in the future.
The secondary legislation includes a proposal to designate criminal-record-certificate information as part of the National ID Register for airside workers at London City and Manchester airports.
As a result, those applying for a criminal-record certificate as part of security procedures would need to register for and be issued with an ID card.
From autumn 2009, airside workers at the two airports will be issued with ID cards on a voluntary basis as part of early trials of the technology.
The ID card secondary legislation can be viewed in full on the IPS website.