Thursday, January 31, 2013

Expatriates in UAE get new identity cards from February 2013

Abu Dhabi: Identity cards for expatriate residents in the UAE will be referred to as ‘Resident Identity Cards’ from February 2013 onwards, the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) announced on Wednesday.

According to a sample image provided by the EIDA, the change constitutes the inclusion of the word ‘Resident’ on the top of expatriates’ cards. Until now, all issued cards have simply been labelled as ‘Identity Cards’.

The change has been implemented in line with recommendations of the Federal National Council (FNC) to reconsider the name and design of expatriate identity cards so that they can be distinguishable from those of Emiratis.

In spite of the changes, expatriates residents with valid identity cards need not replace the cards until they expire, the EIDA clarified.

In addition, although there are no changes to Emiratis’ cards at present, the EIDA is considering a design modification to distinguish them from those of expatriates. Other changes being considered include distinguishable identity cards for people with special needs.

The EIDA statement also stressed that identity cards are issued for resident expatriates in order to confirm their legal identity within the UAE population by assigning a unique personal number to each individual.

Without elaborating further, a source from the Ministry of Interior told Gulf News that the changes to expatriates’ identity cards would help enhance security in the country.

The recommendation for distinguishable identity cards was made by an FNC committee in 2008, which was declared as the Year for National Identity. The committee had said that the identity cards should be issued for Emiratis only, and separate cards, such as labour cards, be provided for expatriates.

Identity cards were introduced in the UAE in 2005 to facilitate governmental services and provide necessary demographic information. The deadline to apply for the cards expired for Emiratis in October 2011, whereas the deadlines for expatriates, which were implemented in phases across different emirates, ended in 2012. The cards are now mandatory to obtain most government services in the UAE.