May 1 deadline for mandatory eID to be dropped

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It will not be mandatory after all for Latvian residents to obtain a personal identity card or ID card by May 1 if the person in question has a valid passport, the Saeima's State Administration and Local Government Committee agreed on February 15.

This issue will be viewed as a matter of urgency in the parliament, Latvian Radio reported, so that the existing rules saying May 1 is the deadline no longer apply in such cases.

The deadline for mandatory electronic identification (eID) cards was set as 2023 four years ago, so the authorities had plenty of time to prepare. Still, the date of May 1 is to be waived because the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) has difficulties in providing eID cards to all who need them with thousands required and just a matter of weeks left.

PMLP estimated that around 350,000 people do not have an eID at present. It will not be possible to provide them to everyone by May 1 this year, because the PMLP is short-staffed and struggling with its workload for a long time, serving both Ukrainian refugees and the many requests for documents.

Therefore, the new draft law provides that if a Latvian resident – whether a Latvian citizen or not – has a valid passport, the eID card will not be mandatory until 2031, instantly creating a massive new 8-year breathing space.

Viktorija Baire from the New Unity faction said that “when a person understands that using an eID card is faster and more convenient, [..], they will decide in favor of the document themselves”.

“On the other hand, those who really don't have that need or have great difficulties with systems and digital skills will use customer service centers and receive ID cards over time,” the MP said.

The draft law, which provides for the withdrawal of May 1 as the date for the compulsory receipt of an identity card, is scheduled to be adopted in a first parliamentary reading on Thursday, which is likely to provide plenty of opportunity for opposition parties to voice criticism of the administrative effort so far. If passed, the law is scheduled to be adopted on an accelerated basis as soon as next week.

As reported earlier, the PMLP has been so overloaded that people are queueing through the night. Those who have already done so because they believed they needed an eID card by May 1 are likely to feel aggrieved that they have gone to such trouble in vain, if they already have a passport.

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