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Mon 27 Dec 2010 11:54 AM

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Expats in the UAE win identity card reprieve

Foreign workers can wait until residence visas are renewed before applying for ID card

Expats in the UAE win identity card reprieve
Some 1.5 million UAE residents have applied for ID cards in the last twelve months, according to the Emirates Identity Authority

Expatriates in the UAE can wait until their residence visa needs to be renewed before applying for a national ID card, according to the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) call centre.  

An agent on the EIDA hotline confirmed to Arabian Business that the end-of-year deadline extension would apply to both Emiratis and expatriates.

On Sunday, EIDA announced that Emirati citizens would be allowed a six-month delay to apply for their ID cards, and that “another recommendation to link the procedures of registration in the ID card and Population Register for all UAE residents to the residence issuance and renewal” had been approved.

Calls to EIDA went unanswered.

The call centre agent said that expatriates who had not registered for their ID cards could wait until their residence visas were due for renewal before applying.

However, he also stated that the length of the extra extension for expats, and the size of any potential fine for missing a future deadline “had not been announced”.

Despite a series of extensions and delays, EIDA has faced an uphill struggle in convincing UAE residents to sign up for their ID cards, despite the fact that registration is mandatory. 

The scheme will soon be tied to the compulsory medical test that residents are obliged to take when their residency visas are renewed. EIDA has been testing a system in Umm Al Qawain, and it will be rolled out around the country by the end of 2011.

In a press statement, EIDA said it had registered 1.5m people in the last 12 months, and was seeking to double that figure in 2011, a clear indication as to the size of the agency’s task.

Less than half of the UAE’s population has been registered. 

ID cards are currently only required for certain new procedures, such as registering a car for the first time or applying for a driving licence.

Despite media speculation earlier this year that the card would be required to process standard traffic and licensing transactions, the rule has not been implemented.