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The Post Office will offer fingerprint and photograph-taking facilities for foreign nationals who need to enrol for an ID card.

The Home Office has been looking for High Street partners without success for some time. But now the Post Office has apparently volunteered 17 offices to collect dabs on a trial basis. Tests start next week.

So far the UK Border Agency has issued 90,000 cards mostly to students and people renewing marriage visas. This beats its previous target of 75,000 cards by November 2009.

The 17 Crown Post Offices (directly managed offices) will get £8 from each foreign national pictured and fingerprinted.

Home Office minister Alan Johnson said the new venues for enrolment would help speed up the process and "help safeguard the Post Office network".

The Home Office is further accelerating the programme - from January 2010 skilled migrants with UK sponsors under Tier 2 of the immigration rules will be included in the ID card scheme - they were previously not going to start getting cards until April.

Foreign nationals not wishing to pay an extra £8 can still be photographed and fingerprinted at an existing UK Border Agency or IPS centre.

Full statement is here. ®

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