Crossing the UK border with a national identity card is no longer possible for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as of the 1st October, says the Home Office, due to the risk of counterfeit documents.
Most ID cards, carried widely within the EU, do not currently contain biometric data and are more easily manipulated by those attempting to travel illegally, therefore making them some of the most abused documents seen by UK Border Force officers. In 2020, almost half of all false documents detected at the border were EU, EEA or Swiss ID cards, according to the release.
Announced a year ago, the move aims to rectify issues such as problems using the cards in criminal record databases. Requiring biometric passports instead is part of the government’s long-term strategy to deliver a fully digitized border.
Those registered in the EU Settlement Scheme however, or with equivalent rights will be able to continue using their ID cards until at least 2025.
“By ending the use of insecure ID cards we are strengthening our border and delivering on the people’s priority to take back control of our immigration system,” says Home Secretary Priti Patel. “We are doing this as part of our 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.”
There are plans for a new ID card security standard in the EU involving biometrics as recently rolled out in France, though in the meantime, ‘old’ ID cards will still be in circulation for the next 5 to 10 years.
This most recent step is part of the UK’s plans, announced in 2020, to leverage a five-year innovation model to improve national security and biosecurity based on a fully digitized border, using ePassports and biometric data as sole authentication requirements. To enable this plan, new border data legislation was announced to allow border data-sharing across entities.
The government’s data reform consultation document, however, recently came under scrutiny for suggesting plans to deprioritize oversight and regulation of surveillance cameras and biometrics as the UK plans its move away from the EU’s GDPR.
While it is yet unclear what a set of different data protection regulations could entail, the innovation model makes it clear that interoperability and data sharing will become a more prevalent feature.