How to get an Emirates ID card

Apply for your ID card now to avoid fines of up to Dhs20 per day

Area Guides

Anyone who pays attention to the local news will have heard rumblings that UAE residents who do not have an Emirates ID card will soon face fines of Dhs20 every day until either they get one, or accrue a total fine of Dhs1,000. After originally announcing a deadline of November 1 for all residents to apply for a card, the EIDA (Emirates Identity Authority) stated last week that Emirati nationals have until October 31 to sign up, while expatriates in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah have until December 1, 2011. Sharjah residents have until February 1, 2012, while expats in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have until April 1, 2012 and June 1, 2012 respectively.

The ever-changing deadlines for the ID cards have led to suspicion that there will be a repeat of the situation two years ago: deadlines were set and fines were threatened, though the last-minute rush of applicants made it almost impossible to book an appointment at the registration centres, resulting in many residents being unable to get a card – with little consequence.

So will the latest deadline to apply for and acquire an Emirates ID card be similarly ineffectual? Perhaps not. The most telling sign is that EIDA has a fully functional – helpful, even – website at, which is being regularly updated. We also found that the voice at the other end of the call-centre hotline was well-informed and helpful. However, when we asked exactly how the penalty system would be implemented (regular inspections, at border crossings or at the airport?), our operator admitted that he didn’t know. We later discovered that any applicable fines will be collected when you apply for visa renewal.

Official advice recommends that all expat residents apply for their card as soon as possible to avoid last-minute delays. Those who work for larger companies should be able to apply for an ID card through their HR department (though they will still be required to attend the registration centre in person to complete the process), while those applying for or renewing their residence visa will now be required to apply for an ID card as part of the process. However, everyone should probably read on…

Why do I need one?

The Emirates ID card was originally intended for use not only for identification purposes, but as a metro pass and even a cash card. However, none of these plans came to pass and, from what we can gather, there are still no plans to implement them. In this respect, the ID card will have much the same use as a valid passport and residence visa – it will be requested when you register with DEWA, apply for a local driving licence, buy a mobile phone SIM card, sign up for internet and TV services, and other amenities.

The process

Step one: Fill in an e-form at any authorised typing centre. According to the website, there are 83 centres in Abu Dhabi, spread across the city, with plenty to choose from in the downtown area. To find the nearest centre, see Always call ahead of your visit.

You don’t have to attend the typing centre in person, but you must visit the registration centre in person to finalise the ID registration procedure, which includes photographing, fingerprinting and a retina scan. The documents you’ll need when filling in the e-form at the typing centres are:
• Original valid passport.
• Valid residency visa.
• Colour passport photo with light blue background.
• Dhs100 per year remaining on your residence visa; Dhs50 for children under 15.
• Dhs70 service fee.

Step two
Having completed the e-form, you’ll receive an SMS containing an appointment date and time, plus details of the registration centre you must attend to complete the process.

Step three: You’ll then need to visit the registration centre on the stated date and time, armed with your original passport, to complete the photographing, fingerprinting and retina scans. Note that you’re not allowed to wear coloured contact lenses, or have henna tattoos, because they interfere with the retina scan/fingerprinting respectively. The website’s small print states that applicants should wear national dress ‘or the official uniform of his/her homeland’… take that as you will. Your card will then be delivered via Emirates Post, so expect it to take anything up to three weeks.
For more info, call 600 530 003 or see

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