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National ID cards – what do you need to know?


Emiratis and expat residents were granted extensions last week on applying for Emirates identity cards, easing weeks of scramble caused by the original end-of-year deadline.

The new deadline for Emiratis is June 30, 2011, the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) has said. Expats, meanwhile, are now able to wait until they renew or apply for a residency visa before registering for the cards.

The news followed a number of warnings from Abu-Dhabi based EIDA, that people without ID cards would not be allowed to access certain government services and could face fines for late registration.

The EIDA has yet to clarify what fines, if any, will be faced by Emiratis that miss the June 31 deadline.

The move will ease the strain on the Emirates Identity Authority’s typing centres, where for weeks people have been camped outside in queues as demand outweighed the services provided.

What are Emirates ID cards?

ID cards are required for all UAE residents. They contain personal data including address, photo, date of birth and fingerprints and can be used as official identification throughout the country.

Cards are valid for five years for nationals. For expats, the cards are linked to the duration of a residency visa and can be updated.

What is the deadline for applying?

The deadline for Emiratis has been pushed to June 30, 2011; a six-month extension. EIDA has yet to announce whether fines will be imposed on those that miss the deadline.

There is no fixed deadline for expats, as EIDA plans to link registration to the visa process. This would allow people to register for the card when renewing or applying for their residency visa. The scheme is currently being trialed in Umm Al Qawain and will be rolled out across the country by the end of 2011.

Eventually, registration will be handled at health centres that perform medical checks on foreign workers applying for visas, EIDA has said.

Why do I need it?

Emiratis can’t get a driver’s license or register/re-register their vehicles without a valid ID card. The card can also be used in lieu of a passport for travel to certain Gulf states, including Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

Expats who are registering a vehicle for the first time or applying for a driving licence also need an ID card, though they are able to renew licences or car registrations using other forms of ID.

Over time, residents will require the card to access certain government services such as water and electricity and health services though this has not yet been brought into effect.

Mobile operators Du and Etisalat currently allow people to sign up for phone and internet services without an ID card. There is also no requirement from the UAE’s major banks.

How do I apply for an Emirates ID card?

ID cards can be obtained by applying through any of EIDA’s typing centres. New applicants can book an appointment by visiting emiratesid.ae.

Applicants then receive a text message with their appointment date and time.

At the registration centre, applicants are fingerprinted and photographed, and their information is taken down.

Those renewing cards don’t need an appointment and can attend any replacement work station. Check the EIDA website for locations.

What’s required for registration?

On the day of the appointment, Emiratis bring their passports, family book and (optional) parents’ family book. Expats bring their passports and residence visas.

For GCC nationals, it’s slightly more complicated – passport and a copy of an employment certificate or lease agreement to prove UAE residency.

Nationals will be asked to pay AED100 and an AED70 service charge. Expats will pay AED100 for every year of validity on their residence visas, and the AED70 service fee.

For Emiratis renewing an ID that’s five years old, the price rises to AED120.

The cards will be couriered for AED20, which is included in the registration fee. The cards are expected to arrive within seven to ten days of being processed.

Where are the EIDA registration centres?

There are 17 permanent registration centres in the UAE, in addition to a number of temporary centres. The locations can be found on the website www.emiratesid.ae or by calling the hotline number 600 523432.