Despite government assurances that the Emirates ID can supplant a passport in just about every instance, organisations' rules vary widely.
Emirates ID cards still not widely recognised
ABU DHABI // Although the Government is firm that the Emirates ID card can almost always be used in lieu of a passport, Emiratis and expatriates say departments and businesses are not consistent in accepting them.
Mohammed Ali, a 27-year-old Lebanese information technology expert, said he went in December to renew his car registration and took his Emirates ID card with him because it was supposed to be required for licence renewals.
"I went and presented my card, but they told me, 'We don't want it. Give us your passport,'" he said. "I did not take my passport with me because a few days earlier my brother went to register a new car and they would not let him until he got his Emirates ID card. So he had to go register [for one] and return four days later with the receipt."
Last year, the Ministry of Interior announced that applicants needed to present Emirates ID cards for any traffic licensing procedures.
But car rental companies have differing policies.
The National Transport Company's general manager, Nael al Fakih, said they had been accepting the ID card since its launch.
German Rent-a-Car, however, said that the ID card was not enough and that a passport copy was required in case the driver was involved in an accident, so they could follow it up with traffic police. This was especially true, the company said, if the driver's licence were from a different emirate.
Brig Gen Ghaith al Zaabi, the director of traffic at the Ministry of Interior, said this was not correct and that companies and clerks "should not be saying this".
The ID card should be accepted for all traffic procedures, he said.
Some hotels and health centres in the capital also do not yet recognise the ID card as a valid substitute for the passport.
The Women's Health Centre, run by Corniche Hospital, said it required a passport to open a file. "Those are our procedures," a worker there said.
"Once my cousin went to book me a room in a hotel. He presented his Emirates ID card and labour card, but they rejected both, saying they need a [driver's] licence or a passport," said Mohammed Fathi, a 26-year-old computer engineer from Egypt.
Luay al Rawshdhe, a property sales executive, said he accepted the ID card for rental or buying procedures instead of a passport copy, but a copy of the residency visa was also required.
"We have to see the residency since it started," he said.
However, he said some people at his company still insisted on using the passport for transactions.
"I don't know how things are going. Sometimes certain employees have their own philosophy and start imposing their own requirements, so they insist on the passport," he said.
Last week the ministry announced it would include the Emirates ID card number in traffic files, so any inquiries about traffic file data could be done with the card number. "This will make things easier for people to enquire," Brig Gen al Zaabi said.
They may also call 600 33333 and type in the ID number to hear the information in the traffic file.
During the Digital ID World conference two weeks ago, Dr Ali Khouri, the director general of the Emirates ID Authority, said not all government departments have upgraded their systems or databases to scan the ID card, so they still need the passport. Dr Khouri could not be reached for comment yesterday.