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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clock Ticking for Expat IDs

Abu Dhabi
--UAE authorities are setting a firm deadline to force all expatriates to carry national identity cards.

Darwish Al Zarouni, Director General of the Emirates Identity Authority, said that all expatriates in the country will be required to have the national identity card for governmental, semi-governmental and private transactions by the end of 2010.

Without the cards, expats won't be able to register cars, transfer ownership of vehicles or do banking transactions. "They will face problems dealing with all sorts of transactions, including banking, in case they don't get the card," said Al Zarouni.

Emiratis without identity cards will not be able to receive any service from government, semi-government and even private organisations from the beginning of next year.

"The identity card which is meant to verify identity and simplify transactions will be compulsory for all Emiratis from the beginning of next year," he said. He added that starting next month, EIDA will discuss the system of implementation with all governmental and private organisations.

"We had talks with the Abu Dhabi Traffic Department which culminated in making the card mandatory for Emiratis to transfer the ownership of their cars and do other transactions at the department," he said. "Other departments will follow to link the card to services that will gradually enable the holders to use it as a multipurpose smart card." Among the estimated total population of 835,000 Emiratis, 285,000 have not yet registered.

"Among the unregistered Emiratis, most of them are children below 15 years. Parents coming for registration do not bring their children due to a misunderstanding that it is not compulsory."

Al Zarouni made it clear that although obtaining an identity card is optional for children below 15 years, registration with the population register is compulsory. "We give an identity number to children, which is compulsory for any official transactions including educational matters," he said.

Al Zarouni said EIDA will have access to the Ministry of Labour's database to integrate labour cards with national identity cards, as per an agreement signed by the two. The agreement between the MoL and EIDA will facilitate identity cards being issued to about 3.1 million workers in the country. Ministry officials said they would encourage employers to facilitate registration of their employees for identity cards.

Al Zarouni said the card will eventually enable holders to use it in place of labour cards, driving licences, health facilities and travelling to GCC countries [for citizens only], e-payments and an e-gate card, which provides a fast-track immigration clearance using smart technology and a fingerprint scan.

EIDA had been entrusted a project worth US$55 million (Dh202 million) to issue about 5 million ID cards to both citizens and expatriates by 2010.

Details: How to register

Applicants can fill in the registration form on and print it out to submit at any of the 24 registration centres in the country. To find out the locations and opening times of the centres and documents required visit the website or call the EIDA call centre on 600 523 432.

People looking to register from the comfort of their homes can contact EIDA's call centre and make an appointment for its mobile registration service. The service charge is Dh500 per family (apart from the registration fee), provided all family members are registered in the same family book or under one sponsorship, in addition to Dh10 for every family member.

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