"Others in Europe should beware because the UK ID card will be the most technologically advanced in the continent (containing biometric and other personal data) and will set a standard in the EU which others will, in time, be expected to match.",,173-345935,00.html
Changing rules on proof of identity
Belgium: Compulsory. Issued to everyone over 12 by local commune. Valid ten years. Must be carried at all times.

Germany: Compulsory. Issued by local authorities to everyone over 16. Police can ask to see ID card, which must be carried at all times.

Greece: Compulsory. Issued to everyone over 14. Must show ID card to police on demand.

Luxembourg: Compulsory. Issued to everyone over 14 by local authorities. Police can ask for proof of ID at any time.

Portugal: Compulsory. Issued to everyone over 10. Valid for five years up to 40, ten years between 40 and 60. ID needed to open bank accounts or cash cheques.

Spain: Compulsory. Spain has had ID documents since 1854. Issued to everyone over 14 by local police. Valid for five years up to the age of 30 and for ten years thereafter. Must be produced to police on request. Contains name, photo, place of birth, nationality, sex and signature. Issued by the Interior Ministry. Costs #4. The Government is considering the introduction of electronic cards.

France: Voluntary. Issued by local prefecture. Citizens may be required to prove their ID on request by police, and cards are used to support benefits claims and banking transactions.

Austria: Voluntary. Issued by local police. Valid for ten years. Legal requirement to carry some form of ID but this can be a passport or driving licence.

Finland: Voluntary. Card contains photo, name, date of birth, code showing place of birth and signature.

Italy: Voluntary. Issued by mayors. Widely held. Individuals may be required to prove ID on request by police. Paper card can be used for travel in Europe. Card includes name, photo, serial number, signature and date of expiry. Fingerprints taken as part of application but stored on database. Costs #3. Valid for five years. Loss must be reported to police immediately.

Netherlands: Voluntary. Introduced in 1995. Issued locally, valid for five years. Includes photo together with name, nationality, date and place of birth, sex, height, address and expiry date. No biometric data on card. Costs #17.

Denmark: No card.

Republic of Ireland: No card.

Sweden: No card. Government has announced intention to introduce a card to allow residents to travel throughout EU without passport. Will be voluntary but based on a population register.

United Kingdom: No card. First ID card scheme was in 1915 to aid military conscription during the First World War. National registration scheme created. Registration withdrawn at end of war. In 1939 national registration began again and people were required to carry ID cards at all times. Wartime scheme ended in 1952.

Australia: No card.

New Zealand: No card.

US: No card, but ID needed for over 21s to buy alcohol.

Cost added to passports and licences

HOLDERS of driving licences and passports would pay for the entitlement card through an increase in the cost of renewing their documents.

If the Government decides on a plastic card similar to the existing credit card-style driving licence or new card-style passport, the cost of renewing a passport will rise from #30 to #40 and a driving licence from #29 to #39. This scale would allow people without a driving licence or passport to obtain the entitlement card for #15.

If the Government wants those without a passport or driving licence to pay only #5, the cost of renewing the driving licence and passport would rise by #14 to #43 and #44 respectively.

The costs would be even greater if the Government opts for a simple smart card. The cost of renewing a driving licence and passport would rise by #18 to to #47 and #48 respectively. This would allow people without documents to be charged #5 for their entitlement card.

But the consultation paper says that a card with a simple memory chip would have to be reissued once during the ten-year validity of the card, resulting in a possible total cost to the individual for a smart card of #65 and #66 respectively.