Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has unveiled the design for the controversial new identity card.
Foreign nationals will be issued the cards, which critics have described as unnecessary, costly and anti-liberty, from November.
People working in airports and other high security jobs will receive them from next year.
Ms Smith used the launch to defend the scheme. She said: "ID cards will help protect against identity fraud, illegal working, reduce the use of multiple identities in organised crime and terrorism, crack down on those trying to abuse positions of trust and make it easier for people to prove they are who they say they are."
But there are fears about the security of personal data after a run of well-publicised government data loss blunders.
Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said: "If the card came with loyalty points, we still wouldn't buy it. "Picking on foreigners first is divisive politics; as costly to our race relations as our purses."
Each card will carry a picture and a chip holding the person's name and date of birth, fingerprint record and other biometric data.
They will also detail the holder's visa status and right to work.
From 2011 everyone over the age of 16 applying for a passport will have their details added to a national identity register.
(source: website of yahoonews-UK, Thu. 25/09/2008)