x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Delay in online alcohol licences blamed on glitches and errors

Consumers have complained about a delay in receiving alcohol licences. Officials blame the lag time on technical glitches and the resulting backlog.

ABU DHABI // Authorities say technical glitches and a resulting backlog are delaying the delivery of alcohol licences.

The Special Licence Office, set up at the start of the month, is averaging 150 online applications a day at its site, www.auhsl.ae.

Many residents who applied for licences up to 10 to 15 days ago are still waiting for the documents, and have complained about the delays.

"I submitted my card on July 4 online but until now I haven't received any information," said Motti Kuruvilla, an Abu Dhabi resident.

Mr Kuruvilla said he received an automatically generated email confirming his application and saying he would be updated on the status in five working days, but had heard nothing since.

"There was an initial delay due to technical hitches along the full system chain, which have now been rectified," said a spokesman for the office. "We are now dealing with a backlog of some applications which were made during that period."

Normally it should take seven days to get a liquor licence from the online office if the applicant furnishes complete and correct information.

Less than a third of total applications processed in the past few weeks have been returned because of errors in the application process.

The spokesman said the 402 returned applications were more than they expected and "largely due to mistakes in completing the application correctly.

"We are updating our site to ensure that applicants fully understand the data requested, for example a current salary certificate, Emirates ID front and back, and a valid visa page of the passport," he said.

If documents are incorrectly submitted, the official added: "Applicants receive an email informing them of why their application has been rejected, and often we also make a follow-up call to guide them through the process."

Some applicants have complained that the office's email address, info@auhsl.ae, is out of order.

The spokesman said the situation has been resolved, but asked applicants to let the office know when there was a problem so it could be rectified.

Licences issued before July 1 by Abu Dhabi Police will remain valid until their expiry date.

anwar@thenational.ae