20220406 emirates id
Picture used for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The Emirates ID will now be used as primary proof of your residency as an expatriate and visa stickers in passports have been done away with. A landmark change that has come into effect from today, April 11, 2022. As the processes get clarified, here’s a quick guide on everything you need to know about the Emirates ID itself.

A new generation of Emirates ID with a life span of over 10 years

In August 2021, ICP announced that it would be launching a new generation of Emirates IDs with a service life span of over 10 years. The advanced version not only includes additional information that is printed on your Emirates ID – like your personal and professional data, issuing authority and population group – but also includes ‘non-visible data’, which is protected through an enhanced protection system and can be read through the ICP’s ‘e-link’ system.

The chip embedded in the Emirates ID also has a higher data capacity, enabling it to contain a lot more information related to the cardholder.

Easy access to a digital Emirates ID

In June, 2021, the ICP had announced the issuing of a digital version of Emirates IDs, which government departments can use in case the cardholder is still waiting to receive the physical copy of their Emirates ID. Accessing the digital version of your Emirates ID can be easily done by downloading the ICP’s smartphone application – ‘ICPUAE’ – which is available for Apple and Android devices.

Once you download the app, you simply need to provide your Emirates ID number, passport number and email address to set up your ICP account, after which you can access the digital version of your Emirates ID, as well as the IDs of any family member who may be under your sponsorship.

How to update the mobile number connected with your Emirates ID

If your Emirates ID was applied for by an agent, or if you have changed your primary mobile number, you may struggle with getting verification codes on your mobile. One-time passwords or OTPs are sent to a user whenever they apply for certain government services like issuing a birth certificate for a newborn or getting a degree attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC). As the verification codes are sent to the mobile number registered with your Emirates ID, you can update the number if you are facing such a problem.

ICP offers the service online, that allows a cardholder to update the Emirates ID’s details. Read our detailed guide on how you can change the number registered with your Emirates ID here.

Turn your digital Emirates ID into a ‘trusted digital document’

Even though you can present your digital Emirates ID for most verification procedures, some applications may require the individual to submit a physical copy of their Emirates ID. Even in these cases, there is a digital service available by the UAE government – UAE Verify – which converts digital documents into ‘trusted documents’, which use blockchain technology to ensure that a digital document is safe from manipulation. If you do need to convert your Emirates ID to a digital trusted document, you can follow the steps mentioned in our guide here.

New photo requirements

If you are applying for a new Emirates ID, or if it is due for renewal, it is important to note that the photo requirements for the Emirates ID were updated by the ICP. Earlier this year, Living in UAE spoke with Nasser Ahmed Al Abdouli, Director of Customer Happiness Department, who clarified that if applicants are facing problems with their Emirates ID applications being rejected, it may be because the photograph does not meet the updated criteria. The new photo guidelines include new photo dimensions, as well as instructions on head position as well as dress code. Read our detailed guide here to find out more.

Use your Emirates ID as a health card

As mentioned above, the Emirates ID contains a lot more information than what is printed on the surface. Through the ICP’s e-link systems, several government departments and service providers are able to access details related to the cardholder. For example, if you are ever in an emergency situation and need to visit a hospital or clinic, you may use your Emirates ID instead of your health insurance card, as the two are linked in the online system. As health insurance is mandatory in the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, getting health insurance is part of the residency application process. So, the next time you find that you do not have your health insurance card with you – don’t stress, you can use your Emirates ID as an alternative.

Easy immigration procedures

Even before the announcement was made on Emirates IDs replacing residence visa stickers on passports, Emirates IDs were being used by travelers to easily pass through immigration checks. Instead of waiting in queue for the immigration clearance, UAE residents can simply swipe their Emirates IDs at smart gates that have been installed at UAE airports.