Emirates ID and Residency Visa in Dubai

All You Need to Know About Emirates ID and Residency Visas in the UAE

Wondering about the Emirates ID and residency visa process in the UAE? If you’re a foreign business owner looking to set up in Dubai, navigating the residency requirements is crucial. In this blog, we’ll focus on these essential documents, explaining their purposes, recent changes, and the renewal process.


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What is an Emirates ID?

The Emirates ID is an important identification card that is issued by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Ports Security (ICP) in the UAE. It is a mandatory national identification card for all UAE citizens and permanent residents and serves several functions:

  • The Emirates ID acts as a key to access various government services in the UAE.
  • For UAE nationals, the Emirates ID serves as a valid form of identification when traveling within the GCC countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
  • Holders of the Emirates ID can utilize the electronic gates (e-gates) or smart gates at UAE airports for a faster and more convenient immigration process.
  • Emirates ID is a prerequisite for participating in the elections of the Federal National Council.

What is a Residency Visa Sticker?

If you’re a foreign national planning to reside in the UAE, you will need a residency visa. Previously, obtaining residency in the UAE involved acquiring a residency visa sticker stamped to your passport by the immigration department. Expats would first enter the country on a visit visa or an entry permit before applying for residency. The application process required passing a medical exam, a security check, and applying for an Emirates ID.

Changes to the Residency Visa System

As of April 11, 2022, the UAE streamlined the residency process. Residency visa stickers are no longer issued. Instead, your Emirates ID now serves as the official proof of your residency status in the UAE. This change aims to:

  • Improve service quality: The unified application process for residency and Emirates ID simplifies the system and enhances efficiency.
  • Adopt best practices: Streamlining procedures aligns with international best practices for residency management.
  • Reduce application steps: The new system eliminates the need for separate applications for residency and Emirates ID, saving time and effort.

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How Does This Change Impact You?

For foreign business owners setting up in the UAE, this change simplifies the residency application. The process is unified under a single application form, reducing paperwork and streamlining administrative tasks. The ICP’s smart application also allows for the receipt of an electronic copy of the Emirates ID card, enhancing flexibility and convenience.

How Do Airlines Verify Residency?

Airlines can now verify your residency status upon arrival in the UAE using your Emirates ID and passport number, which contains the encoded residency information. This verification can be done with a passport reader.

Emirates ID Renewal Process

Emirates ID renewals differ for citizens and residents:

  • UAE Citizens: Citizens can renew their Emirates IDs between six and one month before the expiration date.
  • Foreign Residents: Residents can only renew their Emirates IDs when their residency visas are renewed or reissued. A late fee applies for ID renewal beyond 30 days after expiration.

The ICP will send a reminder for renewal via text message. You can renew your ID online through the ICP website, through a typing center, or by visiting an ICP service center to provide biometric information, if required.

The Emirates ID and residency visa system in the UAE is designed to provide a secure and efficient way for residents and citizens to live, work, and travel within the country. Understanding these processes is essential for anyone considering residency or citizenship in the UAE.

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