MP logo Meyer-Reumann & Partners
German Legal Expertise in the Middle East since 1981

UAE is taking further Steps to Implement the Emirates ID

Guiding Principle

Emirates ID becomes the central and only identification document in the UAE

A. Introduction

The Emirates ID is the identification card for the United Arab Emirates. It was first introduced by the Emirates Identity Authority (Eida) in 2006, in an initiative of the GCC to create an identification documents for it’s mainly expat population beside the passport. After a long and complicated process to introduce the card, the UAE now are taking final steps to ensure that the Emirates ID will become the central identification document.

I. History

Prior to 2012 Eida was already planning to make the Emirates ID mandatory for all citizens and expats in the UAE. However, the move proved to have only limited success as the ID had no large benefits for the users, but only created additional costs. The first deadlines were missed by all Emirates and neither the citizens nor the expats followed the order of Eida. In 2010 Eida began to build up pressure by implementing fines and linked the visa application with the Emirates ID, forcing people to apply for an ID together with the renewal of their residence visa. In addition, public services started to require Emirates IDs. Especially the registration of cars and renewal of driving licenses as well as services of the telecommunication provider Etisalat required the presence of the Emirates ID. This led to large problems, as many people could not get essential services and the application for the National ID was overloaded. Therefore, the largest Emirates Abu Dhabi and Dubai were forced to waive the requirement of Emirates IDs again. But also as the Emirates ID became more popular the majority of the low paid workforce did not register for the ID for organisational reasons.

II. Current Status

Only when the second round of deadlines was announced in 2011 the registration numbers came close to 75% of the residents. By linking the Emirates ID to the renewal process of residence visa, the success finally came also for the low paid sector. Expatriates in the Emirate of Sharjah were required to register and renew their Emirates ID before February 1, 2012; Abu Dhabi residents had to do it before April 1, 2012; and the deadline for Dubai is before June 1, 2012. The other Emirates had their deadlines already in 2011.

B. Recent Changes

To increase the popularity of the Emirates ID, Eida has increased its usability of the card. As described before the Emirates ID was already required for car registration and driving license, and it also allowed the user to activate an E-Gate feature, which allows speedy passport and identity controls at the airports in the UAE, skipping the long queues.

I. Deadline for Children

Until now children below the age of 15 years were exempted from the requirements of having an Emirates ID. However in a recent announcement, Eida has set a deadline for children below the age of 15 years on October 1, 2012. Therefore the Emirates ID becomes mandatory for all residents with a penalty of AED 20 per day, up to a maximum of AED 1.000 for people failing to apply. How ever, exception will be given to children whose parents have residence visa up to November or December 2012. They can apply for the Emirates ID when they renew their visa to ease the burden on the residents going to the respective offices more than once.

The children applying for an Emirates ID do not need to be present while registering and the process can be completed by the parent.

II. Self Service Machines

Further more, Emirates ID holders will no longer need to wait in long queues at crowded registration centers to have their card renewed as they will soon be able to do so by themselves through ATM-machines. Eida plans to install these self service machines beginning of May 2012. The machines will provide different services to clients, including renewal of the ID, amendment of the card data, cancelling the card in case it is lost and changing the card’s password.

III. Replacement of other Documents

In order to establish the Emirates ID as central and only identification documents, it will start to replace other documents previously required. For example there will be no need for expatriates to have labour cards starting from July 2012. The labour card, which was essential for any employee in the UAE, will be replaced by the Emirates ID and there will no longer be a need to have a labour card by the end of June, when the deadline for registering expatriates in the ID system expires.

The Emirates ID will also soon replace all other identification cards for the residents such as driving license and health card. The Emirates ID is usable at nearly all authorities except for opening bank accounts, as the UAE central bank still requires banks to check the passport of the applicant.

III. Emirates ID for Students

Finally, the Emirates ID is not only essential for the working population, but also for students as universities and schools start to use the Emirates ID for registration and application procedures. Therefore students require their Emirates ID to register for courses and to renew their registration at the university. With the implementation of the Emirates ID for children below 15 years, schools will also start to use the card for their processes.

C.  Outlook

After a long time of slow implementation the Emirates ID is on the way to become the card to identify each person in the UAE at all authorities and like the European Union, the GCC is also working on exchanging the data from the Emirates ID (and their equivalent in the other GCC countries) allowing them to travel freely without the need of passports and visa. However, this move is just starting and shall not be expected before 2017 when the GCC rail network is going to be opened.

April, 2012 Tobias Speer
  Meyer-Reumann & Partners, Dubai Office
For free subscription send us your contact details to