How your Emirates ID is linked to your UAE residency visa – explained

Alexis Bobeckyj

Alexis Bobeckyj

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In line with the UAE’s vision to provide world-class, high-quality services, residing foreign nationals no longer need to get a residency visa sticker on their passports. Previously, this sticker was physical proof that you were legally allowed to live in the country. From now on, your Emirates ID will include all information previously mentioned on the residency sticker.

The decision to use the Emirates ID card as proof of residency is part of a larger package of measures to improve government services and provide residents with better amenities. This new process is good news for business owners and entrepreneurs, as it allows for the possibility of printing your employees’ residence details forms in just three steps.

What is an Emirates ID?

The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP) is responsible for issuing Emirates ID cards. Each citizen and permanent resident of the United Arab Emirates must have a valid Emirates ID card. The purpose of the Emirates ID is:

  • to access government services
  • a form of identification for UAE nationals while traveling within the GCC countries
  • proof of identity while going through the electronic gates or smart gates at airports in the UAE
  • for voting in the elections of the Federal National Council.

Emirates ID features – explained

Last August, the UAE government introduced the ‘next generation’ of Emirates IDs. It utilises laser-printing technology to create a 3D image depicting the cardholder’s date of birth. The ID card’s precise lettering, ultraviolet ink, and line drawings are all examples of cutting-edge smart card technology.

The new and improved card has several valuable additions, such as storing extensive information and a lifespan of more than ten years. This chip can hold as many as 32,000 letters of data. Certain records – including your personal data – are encrypted and accessible only to authorised personnel by specialised devices to verify user credentials. This prevents unauthorised access and maintains the confidentiality of sensitive information.

The components of the Emirates ID card ensure accuracy and security. It contains nine security elements that make forging the card very difficult, much above the existing industry standard for cards like banking credit cards. The card has a unique 15-digit number assigned to the holder. You may use this number to access any government service and those offered by specific non-government and commercial organisations that similarly demand proof of identification.

What is a residency visa sticker?

An expatriate must first enter the United Arab Emirates on a visit visa or an entry permit to get a residency visa. Anyone applying for a residency visa who is 18 or older must demonstrate their health by passing a medical examination. The UAE Government website says, ‘They also have to pass a security check and apply for an Emirates ID card from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship’. After completing these steps, the immigration department will affix a residency visa sticker to your passport.

What has changed and why?

Since April 11, 2022, the ICP no longer issues residency stickers to expatriates. Instead, they will use the Emirates ID cards as proof of their valid UAE residency.

According to the ICP, the decision to cancel resulted from a decision by the UAE Cabinet. It was a two-fold approach to support the improvement of services and the use of best practices as well as to achieve the flexibility that aims to cut down on the number of steps needed to get a residency permit or renew one.

Previously, you would apply separately for the residency and Emirates ID. Now the application will be under a new unified form. This also includes issuing and renewing the residency and identity card services. Additionally, it ends the tedious process of receiving and returning a resident’s passport to affix the residency sticker. This transformation of the Authority’s residency services improves customer satisfaction and provides issuance and renewal procedures flexibility.

The ICP’s smart application also allows you to receive an electronic copy of the identification card. This is in support of the flexibility of usage and thus enhances the added value of the ID card in confirming the personal identity online.

How will airlines verify their residency status when residents arrive back in the country?

Airlines can verify your residency using your Emirates ID and passport number, which contains the residency information. A passport reader can help with this.

When can you renew your Emirates ID?

UAE citizens can renew their Emirates IDs six to one months before expiration. Foreign national residents can only apply for renewal when their residency visa is renewed or reissued. You will have to pay a late fee if you do not renew your expired ID within 30 days.

You will get a text message from the ICP asking you to renew your ID card. You may use the ICP website or a recognised typing service to renew your ID card. You may be required to visit one of ICP’s service centres to submit your biometric information.

How to update details on your emirates ID

When an Emirates ID cardholder’s information changes, they have one month to notify the appropriate department in ICP. All citizens and foreign residents of the Emirates are subject to this regulation.

Replacing a lost, stolen, or damaged Emirates ID card

If you have lost or damaged your Emirates ID card – or it has been stolen – you must seek a replacement from ICP. Here’s what you need to do if you need to replace your Emirates ID:

  1. Report the incident to the nearest ICP Customer Happiness Centre.
  2. After reporting the incident, request a new ID card by filling out an application either at the centre or through their app.
  3. Pay the fees. Replacement of a lost or damaged ID costs AED 300, plus AED 70 for typing centres or AED 40 for ICP’s eForm. Express ID replacement costs an additional AED 150.

Why entrepreneurs choose Meydan Free Zone 

A major benefit of opening a company with us is getting a premier location for a business address. Located in The Meydan Hotel, Meydan Free Zone is 15 minutes from Dubai International Airport and has quick access to Downtown Dubai, Dubai Media City, and Sheikh Zayed Road. Furthermore, a prestigious business address presents a high-end status and can help get top-of-the-line clients.

Being a member of the Meydan Free Zone family, you also get access to a fully equipped Business Centre and monthly networking events. Our Business Centre has a world-class professional environment and an ambiance that inspires performance and provides privacy. In addition, you can also take advantage of our exceptional offers for food and beverages and stay at The Meydan Hotel if needed.

Of course, there are other benefits to setting up a business in a free zone, such as no sales tax, no user tax, and no income tax.

At Meydan Free Zone, our goal is to help set up companies and turn them into successful enterprises. Our consultants will support you with all aspects of your business setup in Dubai, so you can focus on growing your business.

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