Most EU, EEA, and Swiss residents will need a valid passport to enter the UK as of today (Friday, October 1, 2021), as the government will no longer accept national identity (ID) cards as a travel document.
These ID cards are among the most commonly abused documents encountered by Border Force agents, with EU, EEA, and Swiss ID cards accounting for over half of all fraudulent documents discovered at the border last year.
People attempting to enter the country illegally can readily abuse them, and by refusing to recognise these kinds of identification, the government can prevent organised criminal gangs and illegal migrants from using them to enter the UK illegally.
With these changes, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel put out a statement saying:
“The UK has a proud history of being open to the world, and Global Britain will continue in that tradition. But we must clamp down on the criminals that seek to enter our country illegally using forged documents.”
“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.”
“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.”
The UK Government said: “This change fulfils our commitment to take back control of our borders and means EU, EEA and Swiss citizens now follow the same rules for entering the UK as travellers from the rest of the world.”
“However, the government remains committed to protecting the rights of EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK, and as we agreed when we left the EU, those in the EU Settlement Scheme or with equivalent rights will be able to continue using ID cards until at least 2025.”
The initiative is also a significant step forward in the government’s long-term plan to create a fully computerised border that would provide a more streamlined and seamless customer experience for visitors to the UK.
Those without a passport are likely to be denied entrance to the UK starting October 1st, though Border Force officers will have discretion in particular situations.