Citizens of India and other non-European Union countries will be issued compulsory identity cards from later this year as part of the British government's plans to improve security and prevent identity fraud.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on Thursday said non-EU nations will be the first to be required to have the identity cards. It will then be rolled out to airport baggage handlers.
People in other sensitive security roles will get them from 2009. Students will need to have the cards from 2010, Smith said.
Britain will also introduce biometric passports from 2012, she said and added that people could use either the cards or the biometric passports to prove their identities.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she wanted to "speed up" the introduction of the cards by making them compulsory for some groups at an earlier stage.