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Updated 18 August 2021

UAE is now open for tourists and returning residents alike and as per the guidelines provided by Dubai Tourism (The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing). 

The  Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) has launched its Smart Services program to further facilitate citizens and residents looking to return to the UAE. The UAE has also announced a special category of residents permitted entry to travellers from six banned countries provided they have obtained pre-entry approval from the ICA.

Read ahead to know more about the services offered, like visa validity check and entry approvals through the Smart Services program. 

ICA Smart Service

The ICA Smart Services provide UAE and foreign nationals a centralized portal from which they may access various services pertaining to visa inquiries, permit inquiries, payment of fees and fines and personal information updates. 

The system provides a range of services for individuals according to each category, as follows:

  1. Citizens: Individual citizens can apply for services related to citizens (passport services, family book services, Emirates ID services) and services for the sponsored.
  2. UAE Residents: Individual residents can apply for services of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, such as visa, residency and Emirates ID services, for themselves and their sponsored.
  3. GCC Citizens: GCC citizens can apply for services related to their sponsored in addition to the services of the Emirates ID.
  4. GCC Residents: GCC residents can apply for services related to entry visas to the country for this category and administer the visa after its issuance.
  5. Visitors: Visitors can apply for services related to entry visas to the country by category and manage the visa after its issuance.

You can access these services through the official website or via mobile applications, available both on iOS and Android.


Entry approval from banned countries 

The UAE has eased restrictions placed on inbound travellers from six countries, as announced by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA). Fully vaccinated residence visa holders from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda can return to the UAE if they have obtained pre-entry approval from the ICA. You can apply for the same here.  Note that Dubai visa holders from said countries must also obtain pre‑entry approval through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

The UAE has also announced the approval of COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued abroad, allowing passengers with approved vaccines to smoothly complete their travel procedures to Dubai. The vaccination certificates registration is optional for passengers wishing to enjoy the benefits of being fully vaccinated by vaccines approved in the UAE.

Step by step guide for stranded returnees

If you are planning to travel to the UAE from the above given exempted countries, follow this step-by-step guide for your return to the UAE. Here are documents and passenger details needed for the ICA approval:

Step 1:  Fill in applicant information- Applicant information includes details such as name, gender, date of birth, place of birth, expected date of arrival, arrival port, and country of departure, e-mail. A QR code will be sent to your e-mail. Please make sure that the e-mail entered is correct

Step 2: Fill in passport information- Applicants must fill in passport type, expiry date, issue date, number, and issue country

Step 3: Fill in address in the UAE- Provide local address in the UAE along with a mobile number

Step 4: Fill in vaccination and PCR test dates-  Applicants must fill out the dates on which they received their first, second, and third doses (wherever applicable). The PCR test date and test result dates must also be mentioned.

Step 5: Upload documents- Passport image, personal image, and PCR test results must be uploaded. The Covid-19 vaccination card is optional.

Step 6: Declarations- Click on the website declaration button stating full adherence to UAE health authorities laws and confirming all documents attached are correct.

Step 7: Hit send

Visa validity check

If you’re planning to visit the UAE, you are required to apply for a visa, even if you’re just transiting through Abu Dhabi. Only UAE nationals, residents with a valid residence visa, and eligible for a visa on arrival can enter the UAE through Abu Dhabi’s airports. All other types of visas remain suspended. 

If you already have an entry permit/residence visa to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah check your visa validity on the website ICA smart services website. 

To track your visa application, you need the application number and reference number. When you submit your visa application to any visa service provider, ask them to give you the application number and reference number so you can track the visa yourself through here

Alternatively, for any enquiry regarding visa issuance, types and validity, communicate with ICA at the toll free number 600522222 or through ICA feedback platform.