The United Arab Emirates has introduced an ID card system that any expats moving to live in Dubai need to know about.  Getting your hands on your card is a relatively complicated and expensive process, and one that increasing numbers of people are complaining about.

In a recent article in the Khaleej Times, various expat families living and working in the UAE pointed out just how much it was costing them annually to have the card on top of their residence visa, health card and residence permit requirements.

The good news is that the ID card is expected to one day replace many other forms of card and ID, but in the meantime, it is indeed an additional expense – but one that you cannot avoid.  In this article we’ll look at ID cards in Dubai and the Emirates Identity Authority, and how you go about getting your card and the costs and processes involved.

The Emirates Identity Authority is the body that has been given the authority to conduct and administer the population registry and the ID card program, and they have taken the security and accuracy of the work involved very seriously indeed.  So much so that the Authority has won the Information Security Award, and all UAE residents – whether they are nationals or expatriates – can at least rest assured that their personal data is apparently being stored most securely.

The main purposes of the population registry and the ID card program, according to the Authority, are to stamp out any form of forgery or ID theft in the UAE, provide statistical analysis of population trends and to allow for the ongoing strategic planning and development of all aspects of life in the UAE, from anticipating infrastructure changes to implementing services to support those living and working in the United Arab Emirates.

However, all that’s by the bye for anyone who actually has to go through the process of obtaining an ID card of course!  On top of having secured a visa, a health card and a residency permit, all those living in Dubai and the rest of the UAE now have to have an ID card as well.  As stated, the cost of the card is proving controversial with the government defending the charges by stating that the systems in place for the provision of the card are state of the art!

To get a card you first have to have your visa, health card and residency permit in place.  You then have to fill in a preregistration form for every member of the family.  You can download this from the Authority’s websitefor free or collect forms from the registration centres or Emirates post centres – if you collect them you may be charged 40 dirham.  The forms then need to be completed in Arabic, this can be done at any of the typing centres around the UAE.

With forms completed for each family member, you need to return to the registration centre with the following: –

The completed preregistration form
Your passport
Your residency permit

If you have children aged 2 years or younger, you have to take them with your to the registration centre and also provide two passport sized photos of them taken against a pale blue background.  You may be interviewed when you go for your ID card, questions will relate to your education, religion, nationality and mother tongue and be used for statistical analysis purposes only.  Once you have had your interview you will be given a number and then you get in the queue for photographs.  You’ll be photographed, finger printed and also an electronic signature will be recorded.  Finally you pay your fees – currently 100 dirham per adult per year and 50 dirham per child per year – and your card will be posted to you.

Finally, there are 6 registration centres in Dubai, and their names and phone numbers are listed on the Emirates Identity Authority website.