back to article Multiple travel firms refuse ID cards as passport alternative

The supposed usefulness of UK ID cards has been called into question by news that major travel companies are telling would-be passengers that ID cards are NOT valid travel credentials for travel in Europe. Around 1,736 people in Greater Manchester have voluntarily paid £30 for biometric-based ID cards since a pilot programme …


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  1. Nomen Publicus

    Fractally wrong?

    I'm a bit puzzled about all this. Anybody who wanted to travel abroad this season would already have a passport if they followed the standard advice from the passport office. As the passport is far more useful than the ID card (covering all countries, especially the US) why would anybody in the Manchester or Liverpool area spend another £30 for an ID card?

    The only thing lacking on the passport is the holders address - but then as nobody can yet verify the address on an ID card, the passport is not at a great disadvantage. Indeed, it is the ID card holders responsibility to keep the address on the card correct, but if it cannot be verified (especially outside the EU), how can it be trusted by a 3rd party.

    1. Captain Mainwaring

      Is there an address on the card?

      @Nomen Publicus

      Is the card holder's address actually displayed on the ID Card or stored on the onboard chip?

      I have seen several high-res photos of these cards, but have yet to see an address printed on one.

      If this is the case, it's certainly going to limit the card's usefulness in the future, as one will need to carry additional forms of ID to prove one's address in those cases where this is required.

      For non-travelling purposes though a photocard driving licence would do just fine, as it already has the holder's home address printed on it and there are already 10's of millions of these in circulation already.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Size matters

      Passport 140*90 mm

      ID Card 85*53 mm

      So perhaps its more convenient?

      (mm aka known as millimetres)

      1. Captain Mainwaring

        Size not always relevant

        @ Aimee

        Size might be a consideration if travelling within the EU only. Outside of the EU only full size counts.

  2. David 45
    Thumb Down

    Having one over my dead body

    1,736 people actually paid 30 quid voluntarily for this heap of privacy-busting rubbish? Have they completely taken leave of their senses? Didn't know there were THAT many folk in Manchester inclined to throw their money down the drain. Thought they were a bit more canny with their dosh oop north, th' knows. As a southerner, I fail to see one iota of benefit in forking out hard-earned money for our cherished government's little toy which will probably track you for life, not to mention all the cyberspace bad guys who are (probably as I speak), rubbing their collective grubby mitts together at the thought of a ginormous population database, just right for the hacking thereof to do a spot of ID stealing. I shiver at the thought.

    1. David Adams

      Oop North but...

      ... they are from Lancashire so that explains it really..

      Body armour and tin hat please.

    2. Circadian
      Thumb Up

      Re: Having one over my dead body

      Not implying anything about the honesty (or otherwise) of the Mancunian community, but you do realise that any professional forgers would want to get their hands on some genuine cards to ensure their product is of sufficient quality for their customers?

  3. Dave 129

    Just a minute...

    Whoa whoa whoa! Did the German airlines say that they won't accept them because the German Government does NOT recognise the cards as a valid ID device? Did I just read that right?!

    If that is the case does that mean you can leave the UK but cannot enter another European country or if you do - can't actually get back because those countries do not recognise it?

    The most important question to be answered is now: which countries do NOT yet recognise the UK ID card yet as a valid identity document?

    Someone please remind again of the "benefits" of this scheme... I seem to be missing them.

    1. Circadian

      Re: Just a minute...

      Yes, that's what I thought too. I don't think it's just the UK travel agencies you need to check with, but also whether the country(s) you are going to accepts them.

      However, unlike Dave 129 I don't think "The most important question to be answered is now: which countries do NOT yet recognise the UK ID card..." as the list would be too long. A lot easier to list which countries DO recognise the <strikethrough>piece of very hard toilet paper</strikethrough> plastic ID as a valid travel document. It's possible that England, Scotland and Wales are on the list - but no guarantee that the local constabulary will take much notice.

      (Stop - as that is very likely to happen at any place that you present the card to...)

    2. Martin 6 Silver badge

      @Just a minute..

      Because the airlines get fined if they carry somebody who claims asylum at the other end.

      This allows governments to subcontract out refusing a lot of people entry without any faillout.

  4. The Vociferous Time Waster

    I absolutely want one

    It'll be an interesting curiosity to show the grandkids.

    1. Anonymous John

      @ I absolutely want one

      They'll be going for hundreds of pounds on Ebay after the 2010 election.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Cheap at ten times the price

        If you do the maths each one costs hundreds of thousands so a few hundred on eBay is a real bargain.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Expired Passports are more useful

    It is possible to enter Germany using a recently expired passport but not apparently a new UK ID card. Top marks to those responsible at the FCO - bonuses all round.

    I want one of these ID cards, I'm not Muslim but I am Asian (authorities assume these characteristics are one and the same) and I get stopped at most airports for a *random* search and questioning (have also been stopped at London railway stations and searched under the terrorism act 2000 twice). In case anyone is wondering, no - I don't have a beard or a non-UK accent. I would hope having an ID card would speed up the process.

    1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!


      When coming back from Italy in 2007, my gf - Asian & wearing a camouflage jacket, carrying a rucksack, waltzed straight thru Manchester airport.

      Me - I was stopped and detained for 2 hours. I'm white. My crime was to be travelling on a Canadian passport and to have lived in UK since 1983, and to have all the correct documentation. That's obviously tres suspicious!

      As a foreign national, I should (I think?) have an ID card. Not bloody likely.

    2. brimful


      Does that mean that by waving your ID card you're automatically exempted from being searched under the Terrorism act 2000 and so instead are searched under the "hello hello hello is that a canoe in your pocket or are you just happy to see us" act 2000? That is of course assuming that the officers are of your persuasion. By inference, are you also saying that because you're not a Muslim, you're not a terrorist? And by inference still, are you saying that only a Muslim can be a terrorist? And by inference again, are you saying that only a Muslim who has a beard and a non-UK accent can be a terrorist? I would like to think that Mike Smith is equally capable as Amir Khan to blow themselves up.


      1. Anonymous Coward


        He is saying that - since he is not white and since the bright minds in airports and train stations are looking for terrorist looking terrorists - he hopes that an ID card would speed up his release.

        And by the way I am white and I get stopped every fuckin' time when I have the *disgrace* of being in transit in the UK because I like to grow and maintain a beard like my father and like my grandfather always have had.

        1. blackworx

          ZOMG!!1! A BEARD!?!

          You're obviously some sort of counter culture patchouli-stink dope fiend hippie subversive who must be stopped at all costs.

  6. Scott 19


    Someone's actually travelled around europe on one and had no problems then i will believe them, i'll be honest though if i was going to travel around europe i'd take the old out of fashion passport with me just incase.

    I'll be honest hopefully this guberment hass cocked this up so much that when it finally does die off the next time they try it people will be living on Uranus.

  7. Andy Livingstone

    ID Cards? Scotland??? 4th January????

    Says who??

    Stand by to block the Borders my brave laddies. Claymores at the ready. "Send them homeward to think again"

    1. blackworx

      Will be interesting... see how many they manage to flog per capita in Scotland compared to other places, when the Scottish Gubmint's opposition to the whole sorry farce is on record.

      "Get one if you want, but we'll never ask you for it. You might need it if you go to Englandshire, but be careful - there be dragons."

  8. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Up

    Probably quite sensible

    A clever way by John-EU Foreigner (see what I did there?) of keeping cretins out of their nations. After all, if you're daft enough to have volunteered for this police state experiment then it's doubtful you have any business in their countries except to cause problems to the locals by virtue of your ineptitude.

    This theory may not apply to Italy and non-EU Switzerland, who already are police states.

    1. Keith Oldham

      RE : Probably quite sensible

      At least I can drive into Switzerland and many other EU countries without stopping or showing ANY ID

  9. Edwin


    You know, you'd make life a lot easier for yourselves (and for those of us who travel to the UK now and again) if you'd just sign Schengen :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too Scary

      No , too scary for HMG to consider, but they would like carte blanche access to SIS!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I quote...

      Just because UK/Ireland not in Schengen appears to not be a waiver for free travel, is this correct?

      There are no longer any frontier controls at the borders between 22 EU countries. This is thanks to the Schengen rules which are part of EU law. These rules remove all internal border controls but put in place effective controls at the external borders of the EU and introduce a common visa policy. The full Schengen members are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden (but not Ireland and the United Kingdom) plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (which are not EU members). Switzerland, the latest Schengen member, opened its land borders at the end of 2008 and its air borders at the end of March 2009.

      Cyprus which joined the EU in 2004 and Bulgaria and Romania which joined in 2007 do not yet fully participate in Schengen. You will therefore need to present a valid passport or ID card to travel to those countries and to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

      When entering or leaving the EU at the external borders you will need a valid passport or an ID card.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      And at the same time

      Make it oh so much easier for all those people trying to illegally enter the UK. And don't tell me that it doesn't happen otherwise why would the French have built a refugee camp at Sangatte (albeit now closed). The UK is a popular place for a lot of refugees for no better reason than many of them speak English as a first or second language. Protecting our borders is something that I would hate to stop doing.

  10. Alex Walsh

    In a statement

    "the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said it remained confident that the majority of travellers will have no problems using ID cards as an alternative to passports."

    Never let it be said the gov lets good old facts get in the way of anything.

    1. Quickbeam
      Jobs Horns

      Better not be a minority then

      "the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said it remained confident that the majority of travellers will have no problems using ID cards as an alternative to passports."

      So how will you know before you set off whether you will be one of the majority or not? Better take your passport as well.....

      Excuse me while I laugh hysterically.

  11. Andus McCoatover

    Ha ha ha. Hahahahaha!

    Oh, really? Didn't see this one coming?


    Yet, I can travel from my adopted residence of Finland to any other European country (except UK, 'cos I might be a terrist, or a Brazilian electrician, or a bit overly sun-tanned, or DWI*) with just a bloody photo driving licence.

    Fuc*king jobsworth muppets. Can't really blame Gordon Brown for this fuc*k-up, which is a pity.

    *DWI. Driving Whilst Islamic.

    (We need a Gordon Brown icon. I'd suggest a glass eye, but Moderatrix would poke that one out of Kilt-er)

    1. N2


      One eyed tosser by any chance?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The moderatrix wears a kilt?

      And what's Gordon Broon doing up it?

      Or have I got that wrong?

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Clearly a communications failure

    The government needs to increase its spending on "telling us what is good for us".

    1. Quirkafleeg
      Big Brother

      It's the truth

      They'll be telling us who to vote for next…

  13. kevin biswas
    Thumb Up

    expect ? duty ?

    "We expect all carriers in the UK to accept National Identity Cards for travel as a legal duty"

    = Unenforceable ?

    If participation in this scheme were really, enforce-ably compulsory, wouldn't the language be a LOT stronger and less equivocal mere expectation or duty ?

  14. John G Imrie

    False advertising

    I wonder if any one has complained to the ASA yet?

  15. Stu Pid

    What's more shocking

    Is the fact that the MEN actually did some (reasonable) journalism.

  16. Oninoshiko

    Help! Im being repressed

    only men reporters? why did no women reporters investigate?

  17. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    A whole 1,700 people out of about, what, about 6-7 million citizens of Manc?!

    Not bad going, higher than I would have guessed at! LOL!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU Freedom of Travel

    Here is the word from the EU re travel docs....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More "joined-up government"...

    Every week we see more evidence that the party in power thinks its job is just to have clever ideas, write them up briefly (and sloppily), and then leave it to others to "implement", "deliver", "roll out", or whatever other asinine piece of bureaucratic cant is fashionable that week. Rather like the imbeciles, known to every author, who suggest a partnership where "I have ideas and you write books about them" - splitting the proceeds fifty-fifty, of course.

    To get a list of the things they have got drastically wrong - to the lasting disadvantage of the UK and its citizens - all you need do is read their election manifestos and other promises. I clearly recall a lot of bragging about how New Labour would bring in "joined-up government". Remember that? Along with "the big tent", "the third way", and of course the Millennium Dome?

  20. TimBinsted

    European Identity Cards in the UK

    I am (still) a UK citizen but have lived in the Netherlands for about thirty years. I have an ID card (photo and name only) and can travel to all Schengen lands with ease. I have actually never shown it. My Dutch friends can visit the UK with their same ID cards, but I need a UK passport to visit the UK.

  21. Another One

    And the problem is?

    Like TimBinstead above - I too live in The Netherlands and have done so for nearly 20 years.

    Here - you need to register with the local council when you move in to and area. "They" then know who you are and where you live. "They" also require that you carry official ID and be able to present it when requested. This has happened to me once when I was on my bike when I shouldn't have been. So were all the others which I pointed out and the nice (very stressed police lady) put up her arms and let me go.

    No one here worries about these regulations. Note this is also the same country where prostitution is largely legal and so are certain drugs (although that is changing).

    And yes - many people here do travel on EU ID cards only - I see this regularly as I travel a fair bit for work. It's accepted here.

    Many other European countries require you to register where you live and also have a legal requirement that you are able to identify yourselves. Note that this was before 9/11.

    Whilst I am originally from the UK and still am a UK citizen I really fail to see why people get so upset and irate at the idea of ID Cards. Maybe it's the cost or the fact that that the technology maybe isn't there yet? Maybe it's the reasons/exucsuses the government is using to advocate them? I just don't know.

    Can anyone explain the reasons for the dislike of these cards (in a calm logical none-knee jerk reaction sort of way)?

    (Can we have a simple ? type icon please)

    1. blackworx

      Slightly different

      "Them" in The Netherlands is your council. "Them" in the UK is the National Identity Register.

      The NIR is more far-reaching in scope and depth than any identity database anywhere in the world. It's not just a collection of a few personal details, it's a serious and unwarranted invasion of privacy. The reasoning behind it is fatally flawed, it is socially divisive, and it is a massive, massive waste of money.

      Further reading: search for ID right here on the Reg, or go to:

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother



      Whilst I am originally from the UK and still am a UK citizen I really fail to see why people get so upset and irate at the idea of ID Cards.


      Perhaps its because there is not enough accountability and redress in the case of mis use of the data?

      For example, there should be punitive punishments as a deterrent for any misuse of the data.

      Access and correction of the data if it is proven to be incorrect, should be a right of all citizens, carried out by an independent tribunal , comprised of a mentor and lay people.

      or perhaps this is the real reason...

      Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms.

      No government in history has been known to evade this pattern.

      And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

      -- whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.

  22. ACcc

    Quick Maths

    From the ONS - population of Greater Manchester = 2482328 in 2002 census.


    Let's just say that 2 million of voting age, of these 1736 have got an ID card.

    0.0868% of the population have chosen to get one. Less than 1 in a thousand.

    Mmm. Proving to be really popular aren't they. </sarcasm>

  23. Baying Lynch Mob

    Error bounds

    `Around' 1,736 have bought an ID card? Can't you be more precise? These statistics are important to the new world order, dammit.

  24. Emilio Desalvo

    Ryan Air vs. Italy

    Ryan Air has just notified that it will cancel domestic flights in Italy because ENAC is trying to enforce a regulation which allows people to board a domestic flights "with unapproved forms of ID including AT/BT Cards, Employment ID’s or Italian Fishing Licences."...

    Too much ID is bad...

  25. John Mangan

    @Another One

    I won't attempt to cover all of the anti- arguments but in brief:

    - as you touched upon the trumped up reasons for having them

    - the exhorbitant cost

    - the fac that this is intended tobe come the prime ID authentication document (unlike what you describe as the, mostly-neglected, Netherlands document).

    - the government's crass 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' cant.

    - but mostly the DAMN DATABASE which has so many many reasons for being anti I'm not even going to start

    OVer to anyone else . . . .

    1. DaveHenderson
      Big Brother

      @Another One

      I can't argue with any of the reasons posted by John Mangan above. For me one additional reason would be that the card will become another tool for institutional bullies and bureaucrats to use to make life just that bit more unpleasant for anyone they have to deal with.

      Underlying it all is the idea that without a card you are officially a non-person. Something about that grates.

      1. kevin biswas
        Big Brother

        non-person ?

        If I remember my Orwell aright, the term is 'unperson'.... :-(

    2. Another One

      re: And the problem is?


      Thank you

      "our" council registration is centralised - and we alseo have checks made against that database for instance if you wish to become a teacher or such like. The check is basically to check you aren't a mass murderer or anything like that.

      I don't know the cost of ID cards here - we only use our passports or drivers license. I do know that some folks use the ID card.

      What I fail to understand - and yes - I may just be being blond and dense here is what is the difference between ID card and passport. Passports cost more than ID cards but allow you into more countries. All travel is logged regardless of possport or ID card so that can't be it.

      A drivers license is a valid EU identification document - so this should be sufficient. The ID card is just another document that you don't need unless you want one.

      The database idea I can well understand but then again - you are on that database whether you like it or not. You pay tax, you have NI number etc etc. You are in there. We are all in there.

      I wonder if this really is just a reaction to things appearing to change and a government that lies so badly?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        More reasons.

        I can prove who I am, I have plenty of forms of ID, some government issued (they seem happy that I'm not about to go bang on a train) , some not.

        It's not about fear of change, it's about mistrust.

        Whilst there may be 'strict rules' and formal procedures around access to the data they hold on me, I still don't trust them any further than I could throw them. Let's face it, if our elected representatives can so comprehensively milk the system and wheedle their way around the rules covering their expenses what makes you think they deserve our trust?

        If the public facing leeches are that bad, exactly how corrupt are the ones that don't have to answer to the press?

        I'm not a criminal, I'm not 'shady' or trying to evade paying anything but I'm constantly treated as though I'm a criminal. When they start to trust me then I will consider trusting them.

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Passport not an ID document

        You could try reading what it actually says inside the front cover. Mine states "Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."

        So it's a travel document, not an ID token. It states your nationality and/or immigration status and asserts your right to cross boundaries with the backing and protection of the British state. It is ID only in so far as it can be matched to the bearer, but is not strictly evidence of who the bearer actually is (though in practice it is often treated as if it were).

        It is utterly outrageous that aquisition of a passport is being made conditional on enrollment in the NIR. We have a right of free movement within the EU, and ought to be able to obtain the means to exercise that right without "volunteering" to subject ourselves to the government's authoritarian aspirations.


  26. peter_dtm

    @Another One

    UK - Common Law

    you can call your self anything you wish to (as long as it is not with criminal intent) - this is a basic common law right

    you are free to come and go without let or hindrance (well until Blair illegally subverted the 1869 Bill of Rights).

    You may do anything not specifically made illegal

    The rest of the EU is Napoleonic code/Roman-Dutch law. Where you are permitted to do things - you may ONLY do those things which have been made legal

    The two jurisprudences are incompatible - hence the need for the removal from our (UK) legal system of the Bill of Rights; Habeas Corpus and the influence of the Magna Carta.

    The Maastricht treaty allowed travel within the EU on production of ANY GOVERNMENT issued photo ID; in theory you can travel on your photo id drivers licence........ (in theory....)

    Common Law jurisdictions are antithetical to the whole concept of compulsory ID

  27. John Dougald McCallum

    So There

    Another One wrote:-I wonder if this really is just a reaction to things appearing to change and a government that lies so badly? I think you may well have hit the nail on the head that being that if the Gov lied better would anyone know?Personally I do not see the need for one I.D. card that is.

  28. Andrew 99

    another waste of taxpayers money

    what ever happened to cost efficent government? And the concept of the government serving the people?

    I suspect that I'm being naive. It seems that Governments dont fear the ballot box anymore.

  29. Tom 106

    The only thing it's useful for.

    Is for a 40 year old man to prove he is of age to enter into Nightclub of teenagers.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can have your say....

    ...and then they do what they like - or haven't you lot noticed that yet? You really should pay more attention.

    Whether or not we want it, we WILL get it. The only way to get away from it will be to ignore the law. If enough people do it, it could get interesting.

  31. lukewarmdog


    "However one ID card pioneer, Norman Eastwood from Salford"

    Wait.. I'm from Salford and I've never heard of this person. He isn't so much a pioneer as a complete and utter twonk. I know.. that is a Brum term and I don't use it lightly. Please do not labour under the assumption that this person is in any way representative of someone from Salford. He isn't. He's a cunt. Those of us who know our vernacular will realise that this means he is someone to fuck with which our government has clearly done. Clearly Norman Eastwood is blonde, has large breasts and is in possession of a large amount of contrababand. See that film with Cristian Slater who my cousin looked like when he was younger as proof.

    That notwithstandind, there is no call for an id scheme, the pope did indeed poop in a wooded area this weekend (prior to being attacked by a lunatic aslyum seeker) and bears were seen in Rome. Or something.

  32. MrWeeble

    1,736 - pathetic

    There are 645 local government seats and 26 parliamentary constituencies in Greater Manchester. Each one of those will have a labour representative and/or candidate. Total - at least 671 people who stood for or are standing for election on a manifesto to have this scheme.

    Logically if they truly believe this (and if they don't they should stand down), they must have all signed up to the scheme and tried to persuade their spouses, relations and friends to so similarly

    So by my maths, those 671 people persuaded 1065 additional people to sign up. Less than two per person.

    Fucking pathetic.

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