By Elizabeth Broomhall
Gulf state sees surge in applications for identity cards after daily penalties rolled out
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
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.”
It will be interesting to see if fines are actually levied as the current current level of applications seems to be too much for the system to cope with.
I applied and received ID cards for my family a year ago but when renewing my visa in Sept 2011 the card was confiscated with the advice that a new one would be issued with my new visa (of course at an extra cost!).
It has now been 3 months and they are unable to issue me with a new card despite weekly follow-up calls. Informally I am advised that I shouldn't expect a card anytime soon.
Having done the governments bidding and acquired ID cards at great personal expense it is poor practise to then charge a second time for a new card which then cannot be issued.
I think, there has been no improvement in the processes. Infact most of the expatriates have not taken the Emirates ID not because of the Cost but because of the way that it has been implemented till now. Truth is always harsh.
Where is the online registration form that has been promised for some time now? Much smarter way than having everyoneg having to appear at a centre.
Reading all of the letters to the editors in various publications it is clear that most residents are as confused now as they ever were. The whole country could have had an ID card with 3 years had it been tied to visa renewal but instead it has ended up a complete mess
I have heard today that employees of Dubai Free Zone companies who now apply for ID cards are being fined for being late as they are "semi-government employees" who should have had cards in December! I work in Media City and must say that this is the first I've heard of it. Moreover, TECOM rules make clear that while they may provide sponsorship, an "employee" works for their "employer" which is a Free Zone licensee company. Hopefully, someone at EIDA will realise that it is unfair and reverse this ruling.