Government & Law

Emirates ID: identification in the United Arab Emirates

We walk you through all the necessary steps to getting your Emirates ID in the United Arab Emirates.

Emirates ID

By Valentine Marie

Updated 4-1-2024

Everyone knows you’re not a resident until you’ve got your beautiful face on an ID card to prove it. Thankfully, getting one in the UAE is a quick and generally painless process. This guide details all the necessary steps to get your Emirates ID, and includes the following information:

Emirates ID in the UAE

Your journey to becoming a resident isn’t complete until you get your Emirates ID, your resident ID card, and your number. The Emirates ID is your gateway to accessing everything from healthcare to a driving license to government buildings, so you want to get one as soon as possible. This will also be your means for paying your bills and renting or buying a car.

Emirates ID sample

The ID card is issued by the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, and you are required to carry it at all times. The card will have your name, your photo, and your 15-digit ID number, as well as your nationality.

Who needs an Emirates ID in the UAE?

Every resident of the UAE, expat and local, must have an Emirates ID and carry it at all times. This includes adults, children, and even newborns! So, be sure to begin the process as soon as you can.

How to apply for an Emirates ID in the UAE

Some employers will help with or handle the process of applying for an Emirates ID. If yours doesn’t, don’t worry – the process is fairly simple.

Requirements for ID in the UAE

First, fill out the online application (or go to an authorized typing center for help) and pay the AED 100 fee. Soon after, you’ll receive a text message on your phone with the time and location (the branch of the Emirates Identity Authority) of your appointment. At this appointment, you will provide your biometric information.

Meanwhile, go to any authorized medical examination center to get your medical clearance. Basically, you’ll get a blood test to check for diseases like HIV, as well as a chest x-ray to check for Tuberculosis. This is a required part of the residence application process.

If you are found to have active TB or drug-resistant TB you’ll receive a conditional fitness certificate and receive a one-year residency visa; you’ll have to undergo treatment in the UAE. If you are found to be HIV positive, you will be deported.

Chest x-ray

Once you have received your results, keep your receipt showing you passed. Take it to your scheduled appointment, as well as the following:

  • Original passport, showing valid entry visa;
  • Emirates ID application

At your appointment, you’ll have each finger and palm electronically scanned and your photo taken. Then you’ll be sent on your way. You’ll receive regular text updates with the progress of your Emirates ID application, as well as when it’s been sent to the P.O. Box you provided. Word to the wise: provide the P.O. Box of your workplace because addresses aren’t as exact in the UAE as they are in some other parts of the world. Your ID should be ready in 10 business days, once all the requirements are met.

What the Emirates ID in the UAE is used for

Your Emirates ID is your main form of identification in the UAE and you’ll need to carry the physical card with you everywhere. Here are some of the things you’ll need it for:

  • Identification in government offices
  • To pass through immigration in airport eGates in the UAE
  • Getting a bank account
  • Visiting a hospital
  • Getting a phone line and paying your bill
  • Getting a driver’s license
  • Registering a car
  • Paying fines

Temporary ID in the UAE

If you haven’t gotten your Emirates ID yet, you can use your passport as identification, but you won’t be able to prove your residency and access certain services – like getting a recurring phone plan or registering a car. The good news is that you can get your Emirates ID quickly – even within 24 hours if you’re willing to pay the extra fees. So, get it soon after your arrival and you shouldn’t have any major problems.

Business ID numbers in the UAE

Businesses in the UAE come in two forms: a joint partnership, where an Emirati must own 51% of the company, and a Free Zone business, in which expats can own 100% of the business – but can only operate within the Free Zone. In both cases, the business requires a license (a business ID), but licensing procedures vary between Emirates. If you’d like to start a business in the UAE, first decide which kind of business it will be and in which emirate. Then, do your research on that emirate’s licensing procedure.

What to do if you lose your ID

If your Emirates ID gets lost, stolen, or damaged, go to your nearest Customer Happiness Center with your passport as identification and notify them; they’ll deactivate it right away. Be sure to ask them for a copy of your lost ID, or the number itself, if you don’t have a copy of your own. You’ll need to pay an AED 300 replacement fee, and you can apply for a replacement at a Customer Happiness Center or online. You should receive your replacement card within a few days after requesting it, but you can also expedite that process for an extra AED 150 fee.