Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans applying for certain types of visas to remain in the country will be among the first people to have to get the UK’s compulsory new ID card.

The UK Government on Thursday issued details of the new ID card, which will eventually become compulsory for all foreign nationals living and working in the UK.

From November the card will be compulsory for foreigners wanting to study in the UK and foreigners applying for leave to remain on the basis of marriage.

The card will be rolled out progressively in coming years. Within three years all foreign nationals applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK will be required to have an ID card. The Government hopes to have about 90 per cent of foreign nationals in Britain covered by the scheme by 2014-15.

The new credit-card sized document will show the holder’s photograph, name, date of birth, nationality and immigration status. An electronic chip will hold biometric details, including fingerprints, and a digital facial image.   

Students and people applying for leave to remain on the basis of marriage have been targeted for the start of the ID card because they are visa categories, which have been targeted by those wanting to abuse the immigration system, the UK Government said.

“ID cards for foreign nationals will replace old-fashioned paper documents, make it easier for employers and sponsors to check entitlement to work and study, and for the UK Border Agency to verify someone’s identity,” Home secretary Jacqui Smith said.

“This will provide identity protection to the many here legally who contribute to the prosperity of the UK, while helping prevent abuse.”