ABU DHABI // Nearly 250,000 residents have still to collect their Emirates ID cards from the post office.
Now Emirates Identity Authority (Eida) has set a 30-day deadline for the cards to be picked up or they may be destroyed.
Some residents have said they have no time to collect their cards but an Emirates Post spokesperson advised: "It is in the people's own interest to collect the ID cards because these cards will gradually become mandatory for using the services of most government departments."
Piles of 246,250 cards are awaiting collection at Emirates Post offices. Applicants will receive a message notifying them that their card is ready and they will have up to 30 days to appear at the post office. If they fail to do so, they may lose all registration fees and their card may be destroyed.
The Eida launched the campaign and deadline due to the "tremendous amount of cards yet to be collected", a spokesperson for the agency said.
Since September, there has been a rush to start paperwork for ID cards after the Eida announced that it would introduce fines from November 1.
As of this month, every Emirati who does not have a valid ID card will be fined Dh20 per day, up to a maximum of Dh1,000.
Everyone who has an expired card, including expatriates, will be fined Dh20 per day from this month.
For expatriates in the Northern Emirates who never had a card, the deadline is December 1. For all Government employees who never had a card, the deadline is also December 1.
The deadline for expatriates to get a card in Sharjah is February 1, 2012, and for expatriates in Abu Dhabi it is April 1. For expatriates in Dubai, the deadline is June 1.
Last week, Dr Ali Al Khouri, the general manager of Eida, said that the number of ID cards being processed has increased, reaching 25,000 per day.
Many who sought an ID card said they did so to escape fines.
Sarah Saleh, from Abu Dhabi, applied last month but has yet to collect her card.
"If I don't do it now, I will never do it, I will just keep delaying it," she said. "Even if the fine is small now, it will keep increasing, and who knows what will happen in the future, I might not even be allowed to leave the country if I keep getting fined."
Ms Saleh said she was not rushed to pick up her card because she knows "it is there waiting for me, it will not go anywhere".
Applicants are given a choice to pick up their cards from a post office, or have it sent directly to their PO box.