By Elizabeth Broomhall
Employees of private companies in selected freezones will not be subject to fines until later this year
Employees of private companies based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai freezones will not be subject to fines for failure to register for an ID card until April 1 and June 1 this year respectively, the Emirates ID Authority (EIDA) has said.
Confusion over when freezone workers in the two emirates should be penalised for neglecting to apply for their identity documents came to a head last month when a number of private sector employees were fined for late registration.
“Freezones are considered as semi-government institutions, so there was confusion and some people were being fined,” said a spokesperson for EIDA.
“Today we have clarified that employees of private companies [in freezones] will not be fined until April 1 in Abu Dhabi and June 1 in Dubai.”
Since the launch of the Emirates ID scheme in 2005, EIDA has made a series of moves to boost the number of ID card holders.
In November 2010, EIDA introduced fines for UAE nationals who failed to apply for ID cards before the final deadline of June 30 2011, with charges of AED20 per day issued for late registration, failure to renew cards and failure to update important biographical data. The maximum fee was AED 1,000.
UAE expatriates were given some leeway with the scheme, but are now all required to have applied for an ID card to renew their residency visa.
Fines for late registration and non-renewal of cards among expats are also being gradually introduced.
The northern emirates became subject to fees from December 1, whilst workers in Sharjah will be penalised from February 1, those in Abu Dhabi from April 1 and residents in Dubai from June 1.
Lawyers say it is likely the UAE government will increasingly require expatriates and nationals to present ID cards when dealing with federal agencies, in a further bid to pressure residents to sign up for the scheme.
So far only Ajman has linked all of its government services, including Ministry of Interior services, to the ID card. Abu Dhabi requires emirates ID for car registrations and traffic services, and Dubai requests the document for other transactions, such as monthly metro passes.
EIDA says it expects ID cards to be linked with all government processes in all emirates within two years.