Introducing the new identity cards – make sure your business is ready

National Identity Card

Later this year the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is launching two new identity cards – the National Identity Card for British citizens and the Identification Card for European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals.The new cards join the Identity Card for Foreign Nationals that was launched in November 2008 by the UK Border Agency.

Although the initial rollout is to people living in Greater Manchester, these identity cards could be presented anywhere in the country and in future will be available to everyone in the UK. As such it is important that you and your staff can recognise and accept the cards as a proof of identity.

It will be very likely that some staff members dealing with customers, or involved in recruitment, may be shown one of the cards as a proof of identity. The situations where this might happen could range from a customer wanting to prove their age, or a potential employee needing to prove their entitlement to work in the UK. With this in mind it’s clearly important to know how to recognise the cards.

The cards do not need any new equipment as you can easily undertake a visual or tactile check of the cards.

Identity cards offer a range of business benefits;

  • Help you be certain of a customer’s age: If you sell age-restricted goods, there are serious penalties for failing to successfully verify age. The identity cards clearly display the person’s date of birth.

  • Carry out employment checks: By law, you must check that all potential employees are entitled to work in the UK, and you may be liable for civil penalties if you don’t do so. The identity cards will help you confirm an individual’s identity and their right to work in the UK.
  • Meet with anti-money laundering regulations: For businesses that have to comply with UK anti-money laundering regulations, the identity cards will help you to verify the customer’s identity.
  • Use it like a passport: If you or your staff are British citizens and travel on business, you can use the credit card sized National Identity Card like a passport to travel to any part of the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

Identity cards are a Government-backed form of identification that you can trust. The information contained on the face of the cards includes a person’s photograph, name, date of birth and signature, and the Identity and Passport Service conducts background checks similar to that for a passport to confirm the card holder’s details. Those biographical details – name and address etc – are locked together with a person’s unique fingerprints, and digital photograph, making identity cards a more secure proof of identity than the existing range of documents used at the moment.

There are three types of identity card that may be presented to you.

National Identity CardThe National Identity Card is for British citizens and it proves the person has a right to work in the UK. It can also be used in the same way as a passport to travel in the European Economic Area and Switzerland

Identification CardThe Identification Card is for EEA and Swiss nationals who live in the UK, and exceptionally, for some British citizens. It is for identification purposes only and cannot be used for travel. If the card holder is applying for work in the UK, you will need to confirm their right to work by checking their nationality and by visiting the UK Border Agency website.

Identity Card for Foreign NationalsThe Identity Card for Foreign Nationals is an immigration document for those from outside the EEA and Switzerland, which details a holder’s right to stay in the UK. It is issued by the UK Border Agency and was launched in November 2008. It shows information on immigration status, entitlements and restrictions on working or claiming public funds and clearly states whether or not the holder has a right to work in the UK. To find out more visit

Make sure you’re ready with a free business pack

IPS have created a free business pack to help get your business ready for identity cards. It contains leaflets showing card security features, as well as posters and display stickers. These will help you to brief your staff and let your customers know that you are ready to accept identity cards.

To request your free pack or to find out more information visit

For more information about identity cards, to register your interest for one or to see if you are eligible to apply for one visit

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