From April next year expats in Dubai will need to register for an identification card before they can renew their residency visas, officials have confirmed.
The cards will be needed before they can complete the medical tests needed for visa applications.
Dubai is the last of the United Arab Emirates to impose the new rules. From 01 April all emirates will require expats to produce a valid identity card before beginning visa applications.
‘This condition will be applicable to Dubai in co-ordination with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs by early next April,’ the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) said in a statement.
The new rules were supposed to start next month but they have been pushed back to April because not enough new registration centres were ready.
‘We needed more time. The centres at Al Muhaisna and Al Baraha will be the biggest in Dubai and in the country. Al Muhaisna will be able to register more than 3,600 people per day. But currently these are still under construction,’ the spokesman explained.
In July, Dubai ruled that workers in any of Tecom’s 11 free zones would need to register for an ID card before applying to renew their visa.
The Emirates Identity Authority has faced an uphill struggle in convincing UAE residents to sign up for mandatory identification cards, despite announcing a series of deadlines for applications.
The scheme, which began in 2005, was designed to integrate information from labour cards, visas and other ID documents, and to make government transactions easier.
Each card contains the holder’s address, photo, date of birth and fingerprints, and can be used as an official source of identification in the Gulf state.
In November, the EIDA introduced penalties for UAE nationals who failed to apply for ID cards before the final deadline of June 30 this year, in a bid to boost the number of card holders.
Fines of AED20 per day were to be issued for late registration, failure to renew cards and failure to update important biographical data, with a maximum fee of AED 1,000.
Expats will face daily fines from 2012 for failing to have a valid identity card. Sharjah residents will be charged from 01 Feb, Abu Dhabi from 01 April and Dubai from 01 June.The Northern Emirates applied the ruling from 01 December this year.
EIDA said in November it had seen a surge in applications for ID cards since the threat of fines was introduced, with more than half the population registering for the scheme.