Most EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will need a valid passport to enter the U.K. now that the British government has stopped accepting national identity (ID) cards as a travel document as part of its post-Brexit measures.
The U.K. government says the ID cards are some of the most abused documents seen by Border Force officers and, last year, almost half of all false documents detected at the border were EU, EEA or Swiss ID cards.
They can be abused by people attempting to come into the country illegally and by stopping accepting these forms of ID, the government can prevent organized criminal gangs and illegal migrants using them to enter the U.K. unlawfully.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the move is part of the government’s New Plan for Immigration, “which will be firm on those who seek to abuse the system, and fair on those who play by the rules”.
The move also marks an important step in the government’s long-term strategy to deliver a fully digitised border, providing a more streamlined and seamless customer experience for travelers entering the U.K.
ID cards are a notoriously insecure form of travel document, because some cards do not have biometric data, making it easier to falsify the data recorded; they are more difficult to cross-reference with criminal record databases than passports; although a new ID card security standard is being introduced across the EU, cards will still be in circulation for the next 5 to 10 years which do not conform to these standards; and inconsistencies in the design and security features of the cards make them easier to counterfeit than passports.
The move was first announced in October 2020, taking a year to implement.
As part of the Brexit agreement, people in the EU Settlement Scheme or with equivalent rights will be able to continue using ID cards until at least 2025.