Identity cards and new Identity and Passport Service suppliers

Guidance on the 2011 cancellation of identity cards, and information about new suppliers working with the Identity and Passport Service.


This guide provides information about the 2011 cancellation of identity cards, including what you need to do if you have one, and gives details on the new suppliers working with the Identity and Passport Service.

Identity card cancellation

Under the terms of the Identity Documents Act 2010, identity cards ceased to be legal documents on 21 January 2011. The government introduced the Identity Documents Act 2010 which received royal assent on 21 December 2010. The act brings into law:

  • the cancellation of the UK national identity card
  • the identification card for EEA nationals
  • the provision for the destruction of the National Identity Register

Your identity card ceased to be a valid legal document for confirming your identity on 21 January 2010.

We have written to all existing cardholders at their registered address to inform them of the position.

Using your identity card as proof of identity, age or as a travel document

It will not be illegal to use your identity card as proof of identity after 21 January 2011. While the identity card is no longer valid for official purposes some organisations may still be willing to accept them as proof of identity without the ability to check against the national identity register.

Identity cards have ceased to be valid travel documents. If you have made travel plans and don’t currently have a passport we would advise you to apply for a passport now.

Passport information 

Passport advice line: 0300 222 0000 (open from 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am - 5.30pm weekends and public holidays)

What to do with your identity card

Identity cardholders are not required to return their cards to Identity and Passport Services (IPS). Holders of identity cards are advised to consider securely destroying them. People that choose to retain their identity card should ensure that it is kept in a safe and secure place. To avoid unnecessary and expensive processes, and to minimise cost to taxpayers, cards will not be recalled, and cardholders will not be offered refunds.

Returning to the UK with a cancelled identity card

The decision to grant entry at a port after this time is a matter for the UK Border Agency. Ports staff will be made aware of the cancellation identity cards and will apply their discretion in relation to people coming back to the UK on an identity card. To avoid uncertainty and delays we recommend that people travelling overseas do so with their British passport.

You should make arrangements to visit the British embassy/high commission or consular office in the country you are visiting to discuss your circumstances. Depending upon the duration of your stay, they may be able to arrange for either an emergency travel document to be issued or a new passport to be requested. A fee will be payable for either an emergency travel document or a new passport, please consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office section for details of the office details and requirements.

Cancellation of the national identity register

The national identity register was destroyed on 10 February 2011. The personal details of everyone issued with an identity card which were recorded on the National Identity Register were securely destroyed. This included photograph and fingerprint biometrics. The register was destroyed by IPS along with the relevant contractors to approved security standards. The completion of the decommissioning will be reported to Parliament.

Biometric residence permit

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) will continue to issue biometric residence permits to non-EEA foreign nationals (formerly known as identity cards for foreign nationals). The biometric data is not kept on the national identity register. European law requires non-EEA foreign nationals to be provided with biometric residence permits.

New Identity and Passport Service suppliers

In May 2008, 5 new suppliers were chosen to work with the Identity and Passport Service: CSC, EDS, Fujitsu, IBM, and Thales. Each signed framework contracts and formed a strategic supplier group.

Using a strategic supplier group allows IPS to carry out shorter procurement processes, meaning contracts for services can be issued more quickly and easily. By inviting suppliers to sign up to a single framework contract, it ensures common terms and conditions and pricing structures are in place.

The group of suppliers under the framework contract can also be accessed by other agencies. The UKBA has been involved in the procurement process to date, and now uses the framework contract to procure services for the improvement of its case work operations.

Published 26 March 2013