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U.K. Plans to Introduce ID Cards for Foreign Residents by 2008

Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign citizens living in Britain will have to hold an identification card by 2008 under a 5.4 billion pound ($10 billion) program to roll out ID cards to everyone in the country.

Home Office minister Liam Byrne said the government will fingerprint all visa applicants and collect biometric details such as iris scans and facial details within two years. The government plans to require ID cards for U.K. citizens from 2010.

The measures are aimed at curbing illegal immigration, benefits fraud and crime, which Prime Minister Tony Blair's government estimates cost 1.7 billion pounds a year. The changes will bring the U.K. into line with European Union rules requiring more secure passports for travel by July 2009.