What is the National Identity Service?
We all use a variety of documents to prove identity, including passports, driving licences and utility bills. But none of these were designed as 'identity' documents. The National Identity Service will combine dedicated identity documents, such as passports and identity cards, to provide a range of identity services for both individuals and businesses.
The main features of the National Identity Service
The National Identity Service replaces the need for a range of documents with one card andintroducesa range of new services. For British citizens, the identity card will also be valid for European travel.
The Identity and Passport Service issues UK passports, but now issues identity cards too. Identity cards and e-passports use your biometrics or unique physical features (your face and your fingerprints) to lock you to your unique biographical identity (name, address, date of birth) on the National Identity Register. You can use your passport or identity card to prove your identity.
The National Identity Register holds your details securely. Your biometric details are held separately from your biographical details. The National Identity Register only holds basic personal information like your name, address and date of birth. It does not hold sensitive information like religion, ethnicity or tax, health or criminal records.
By locking one individual to one identity using their biometrics, the National Identity Service makes it much harder to create false identities. This will reduce the gains to be had from stolen identities. Once a person has their biometrics stored on the Register, they will be unable to claim an additional identity. This aims to make life easier and society safer.
The identity card can replace the range of documents currently used for verifying identities, making life simpler and saving time. Over the next few years, new identity verification services will also make proving your identity over the telephone or over the web more secure as well. It will provide similar advantages for public service providers, users and claimants.
Identity fraud takes resources away from those most in need and is unfair to the millions of honest citizens who fund services and benefits through tax and National Insurance payments. By providing better identity assurance, the National Identity Service helps ensure public services are used by those entitled to do so and not those who are abusing the system.
The National Identity Service will help employers find out about the immigration status of job applicants and about any visa restrictions that may mean they cannot work legally in the UK.
Criminals and terrorists are known to use stolen and multiple identities, so anything that can be done to prevent these being created will discourage their activities. The National Identity Service will stop people registering more than one identity. So, while the National Identity Service alone cannot prevent crime and terrorism, it can make it more difficult for criminals and terrorists to plan and carry out their activities.
The National Identity Service and your interests
When you give your permission for a check to be made against your entry, an audit trail will be kept when that check is made for your benefit. You will be able to see a log of the record-checking activity - like checking a bank statement. No details of the reason for the check will be recorded - only the fact that a check was made and by whom.
You can find out what information the Identity and Passport Service holds about you by submitting a 'subject access request' form (linked below).
Looking after your identity interests
An independent Identity Commissioner looks after the public's interests. The commissioner reviews the way in which the National Identity Service works, and how identity cards are used by both the public and private sectors, and reports annually on his findings.
In addition, public panels and an experts group have been created to make sure that the National Identity Service receives independent scrutiny. The panels will listen to the public's views, and then decide if the service is meeting their needs. The experts group will provide independent expertise and advice.
Keep your details up to date
It is important that you keep your information on the National Identity Register up to date. For example, if you change your name after marriage or your address when moving home, you will need to tell us. Once it is confirmed that you are the rightful owner of the identity record, making changes should be straightforward.
Under the Identity Cards Act 2006, you may have to pay a civil penalty of up to 1,000 if you fail to update your details on the National Identity Register by informing the Identity and Passport Service.
Find out more about ID card rules and penalties by reading the code of practice approved by Parliament (linked below).
Identity card for foreign nationals
In November 2008, the first identity cards for foreign nationals were issued to people from outside the European Economic Area who had been granted an extension of their stay in the UK as a student, or on the basis of their marriage to, or partnership with, a UK citizen.
In March 2009 the scheme was extended to several other categories of visa applicants.
All new foreign nationals coming to the UK, and those who are extending their stay in the UK for more than six months, will have a card within three years.
It is estimated that by the end of 2015, about 90 per cent of all foreign nationals in the UK will have been issued with an identity card. As well as being an immigration document for foreign nationals, the card will allow them to prove their right to live in the UK, and to work, study or access public services here.
For more information, and to find out which categories of applicants are currently required to have identity cards, please follow the link below.
Provided by the Identity and Passport Service
This content is subject to Crown Copyright