UAE fines threat spurs sign-up for ID cards

Gulf state sees surge in applications for identity cards after daily penalties rolled out
UAE fines threat spurs sign-up for ID cards
Workers in 11 of Dubais free zones must have an ID card to renew their visa
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Sun 27 Nov 2011 07:44 AM

The Emirates ID Authority has seen a surge in applications
from UAE residents for ID cards, following the threat of an up to AED20 daily penalty
for those not holding a valid card.   

Less than AED5,000 has been issued in fines to expatriate
and Emirati residents, director general

Ali Al Khoury said, after more than half the population
signed on to receive an ID card.

“The enrolment rate was accelerated by the new process,” he
told Arabian Business. “Until 2009, we only enrolled about a million people - about
3,000 a day. Today we are registering more than 17,000 people a day.

“Fines are only one of the procedures... but definitely
[they have] helped a lot in getting a large number of people registered and
giving a boost to the registration rate. Renewals are also about 7,000 a day now.

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 fines 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 issued for late registration,
failure to renew cards and failure to update important biographical data, with
a maximum fee of AED 1,000.

Expatriates in all emirates except Sharjah and Dubai must
have, or have applied for, an ID card to renew their residency visa. Sharjah intends
to enforce the same ruling from Dec 1.

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.

Fines for late registration and non-renewal among expats are
being gradually introduced, with the northern emirates subject to fees from Dec
1, Sharjah from Feb 1, Abu Dhabi from April 1 and Dubai from June 1.

Lawyers say it is likely the UAE government will also
increasingly require expatriates and nationals to present ID cards when dealing
with federal agencies, in a bid to pressure residents to sign up for the
scheme.

To date, 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.

Al Khoury said he expected ID cards to be linked with all
government processes in all emirates within two years.

“Our strategy assumes that the whole population will be
enrolled in the program by the end of 2013.”

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