x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Three-year plan to give all expatriates ID cards

You may not be required to get an Emirate ID card by the end of the year, but that doesn't mean you should put it off.

ABU DHABI // You may not be required to get an Emirate ID card by the end of the year, but that doesn't mean you should put it off. The Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) said this week that it would back off the December 31 deadline for residents to obtain the cards. It has introduced a three-year plan to enrol all expatriates as they purchase or renew their visas.

However, the cards are now supposed to be mandatory to get a driving licence or register a vehicle. They will eventually be used as a regional passport, health card, credit card for government-related financial transactions and even as library cards. Nine out of 10 expatriates have yet to get the card, and many residents tell horror stories of hours spent trying to download online registration forms and long queues at crowded registration centres.

A streamlined application process has greatly eased those woes, according to Ali al Khouri, deputy head of the authority's higher committee. EIDA's website lists more than 300 typing centres at which registrants or their representatives can fill out an electronic form with staff and pay all of the required fees. The cost adds up to at least Dh170, plus Dh100 for each year a foreign resident's visa is valid.

The authority also recently announced that children under the age of 15 will need ID cards, costing Dh140 each. Parents can register their children as they renew their visas. Unlike adults, children do not need to be fingerprinted or present for registration. The average waiting time at centres is six minutes, and should fall as EIDA hires more staff and installs printers and scanners. Registration centres are also installing iris scanners, which will eventually mean UAE nationals need only renew their cards every 10 years.

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