Dubai ties ID cards to all visas from April

All expatriates in the Gulf emirate will need to register for ID cards ahead of visa renewal
Dubai ties ID cards to all visas from April
Workers in Dubais free zones must already have an ID card to renew their visa
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Wed 14 Dec 2011 12:53 PM

Expatriates living in Dubai will need to register for their Emirates ID cards before renewing or applying for their residency visas from April, authorities said Wednesday.

Effective from April 1 2012, foreign residents across the city will need to register for an identification card before they can complete the medical tests needed for visa applications.

Once effective, the ruling will mean all seven of the country’s emirates require expatriates to produce a valid identity card before beginning visa proceedings.

“This condition [will] be applicable to Dubai in co-ordination with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs by early next April,” the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) said in a statement.

In an interview with Arabian Business, a spokesperson for the authority said the rule was intended to come into effect in January, but was pushed back due to construction delays to registration centres.

 “We need more time,” a spokesperson said. “The centres [Al Muhaisna and Al Baraha] will be the biggest in Dubai and in the country. Al Muhaisna will be able to register more than 3,600 people per day. These are still under construction.”

In July, Dubai ruled that workers in any of Tecom’s 11 free zones would need to register for an ID card before applying to renew to secure their visa.

The Emirates Identity Authority has faced an uphill struggle in convincing UAE residents to sign up for mandatory identification cards, despite announcing a series of deadlines for applications.

The scheme, which began in 2005, was designed to integrate information from labour cards, visas and other ID documents, and to make government transactions easier.

Each card contains the holder’s address, photo, date of birth and fingerprints, and can be used as an official source of identification in the Gulf state.

In November, EIDA introduced penalties for UAE nationals who failed to apply for ID cards before the final deadline of June 30 this year, in a bid to boost the number of card holders.

Fines of AED20 per day were to be issued for late registration, failure to renew cards and failure to update important biographical data, with a maximum fee of AED 1,000.

Expatriates will face daily fines from 2012 for failing to have a valid identity card. Sharjah residents will be charged from Feb 1, Abu Dhabi from April 1 and Dubai from June 1.

The Northern Emirates applied the ruling from December 1 this year.

EIDA said in November it had seen a surge in applications for ID cards since the threat of fines was introduced, with more than half the population registering for the scheme.

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