[WATCH] Identity Malta offices besieged by expired ID card holders

Identity Malta offices in Blata l-Bajda once again besieged by hundreds of people racing against the Thursday deadline. 

Some 2,000 persons have not yet renewed their expired ID Cards as the Identity Malta offices in Blata l-Bajda were once again besieged by hundreds of people racing against the Thursday deadline.

Some of those waiting in the long lines, or leaving the offices told Malta Today that they had waited just over an hour to apply for the new ID cards, given that as from 1 January, expired cards cannot be used.

One man waiting in line, said he had been waiting for about an hour already and he added that he was particularly disappointed at not having been informed about the need to change his ID card earlier on.

“My card expires in 2018, and I wasn’t aware that I needed to change it by the end of this year,” he said, adding that he was only informed that he should change it after he called the offices earlier this morning.

He added that had he been aware of this necessity earlier on, he would have made sure to be there on another day.

Another man said that he had been waiting in line for about a half hour, but added that he had forgotten to apply for his ID card when officers went around various localities to facilitate application for the new card

“It’s something that needs to be done,” he said. “I wasn’t aware when they were going around the localities because I was distracted or too busy,” he said.

Others expressed surprise at how well the flow of people was managed, and said that they hadn’t had to wait as long as they expected, with most quoting feeling unwell or not making it on time earlier during the year, as reasons for leaving applying to the last minute.

“It was our fault we had to wait,” said a father and his son, adding that they had forgone the possibility of a more comfortable process when they had had the chance.

Identity Malta has meanwhile denied that people would be charged for renewals as from next week.

Citizens with expired cards were advised to renew their cards before the end of the year, prompting thousands of people to queue for hours at the Identity Malta offices, but given the long lines, Identity Malta has decided to waive penalties for late renewals, and people will only be charged administrative fees.

For years, expired ID cards were being accepted by banks and government departments but this will no longer be possible in January.