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Reviewed 31 August 2021

The United Arab Emirates remains among the favorite destinations for world travelers, either for tourism or business. Millions of Americans visit the UAE, the land of seven Emirates, every year. Likewise, Emiratis love to visit the United States of America, the birthplace of Hollywood and the entertainment capital of the world. 

Understandably, the pandemic has changed the travel dynamics between the two countries. Here, we break down the rules you’ll have to adhere to while flying from the US to the UAE and vice versa.

Travelling from the UAE to the US

Can I travel to the US?

In most cases, no. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the United Arab Emirates due to COVID-19 and travellers from the US are also advised to avoid all travel to the UAE.

Testing requirements

All air passengers above the age of 2 coming to the United States, including US citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.  

Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Rapid tests are also acceptable as long as they are viral tests. This includes:

  • reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
  • reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)
  • transcription-mediated amplification (TMA)
  • nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR)
  • helicase-dependent amplification (HDA)

A test result must be in the form of written documentation, either on printed paper or as an electronic copy.

The documentation must include:

  1. Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)
  2. The entity issuing the result (e.g., laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)
  3. Specimen collection date. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result for recovery documentation from COVID-19 must show the sample was collected within the 3 months before the flight.
  4. Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
  5. Test result

The result can be in a language other than English as long as the airline or aircraft operator is able to confirm the test result and review other required information.

Those who have recovered from the coronavirus in the 3 months preceding travel do not need to get tested. However, they will be asked to present the documentation of recovery, that is:

  • proof of a recent positive viral test, and
  • a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel

Passengers will also have to sign an attestation in regards to the test report. This attention has to be submitted to the airline before embarkation.


Quarantine regulations

Fully vaccinated travellers

Fully vaccinated travellers with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization on arrival at the US should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
Unvaccinated travellers
  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
    • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.
Travellers who recently recovered from COVID-19

If you recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the last 3 months, follow all requirements and recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers except you do not need to get a test 3-5 days after travel unless you are symptomatic. People can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others.


Flights from the UAE to the US

From Dubai

Emirates, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways and Royal Jordanian offer direct flights to the US. Several other flights such as Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, KLM, Air Canada offer connecting flights to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Seattle, Houston and several other states in the US.

Book cheap flights from Dubai to the US here Book cheap flights from Dubai to the US here
From Abu Dhabi

Emirates and Etihad offer non-stop flights to the US. Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways and Qatar Airways are others connecting flights to the US from Abu Dhabi.

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Travelling from the US to the UAE

Can I travel to Dubai?

Yes, you can. Dubai allows all categories of passengers. Leisure travellers and vacationers, too, can visit this modern-day paradise.

Before you arrive in Dubai, you’ll need to download the DXB Smart App on iOS or Android. Note that you are no longer required to international travel declaration form to travel abroad from England.

Testing requirements

All US travellers arriving or transiting through Dubai must hold a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

The certificate must be of a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, as other test results such as antibody tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai. Carry the official, printed certificate, as SMS and digital formats are not acceptable. Certificates in languages other than English and Arabic are accepted only if they can be validated at the originating station. It need not have a QR code.

The following passengers have been exempted from the pre-departure testing:

  • UAE nationals are exempt from taking a COVID‑19 PCR test before departing for Dubai. They must be tested on arrival in Dubai, irrespective if they are holding a valid negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR certificate from the point of origin.
    This is also applicable for:

    • Passengers accompanying a 1st degree UAE nationals’ relative or domestic workers
    • Domestic workers escorting a UAE national sponsor during travel.
  • Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from taking a COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test*

*moderate or severe disability includes neurological disorders and intellectual or developmental disabilities. For example: Acute spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Ataxia, Autism spectrum, Bell’s palsy, Brain tumours, Cerebral aneurysm, Cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Epilepsy and seizures. All other passengers, including those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or physically challenged must hold a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test certificate as per the requirements.

Quarantine regulations

Travellers arriving from the US are generally not required to take a second test on Emirati soil.

However, in certain cases, such as UAE nationals not carrying negative test certificates, or those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 on arrival, an airport test will be required.

If you are required to take another test on arrival, you must remain in quarantine at your residence until you receive the test result. If the test result is positive, you must stay in isolation and follow the instructions of the Dubai Health Authority. If the test result is negative, you do not need to quarantine yourself.


Can I travel to Abu Dhabi?

Only UAE nationals, residents with a valid residence visa, and those who are eligible for a visa on arrival can enter the UAE through Abu Dhabi’s airports. All other types of visas remain suspended.

Although you no longer need approval from Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) via Smart Services to enter the UAE, you are recommended to visit and submit your passport number and Emirates ID number to receive instant verification of your entry status.

Testing requirement

If you are travelling to Abu Dhabi, you must follow these rules while departing from the US

  • take the PCR test 72 hours before your flight
  • download the ALHOSN UAE app on your mobile phones before you travel to Abu Dhabi
  • undergo a thermal screening and another COVID-19 PCR testing on arrival at Abu Dhabi airport.

The rules apply to all travellers, except children under the age of 12.

Apart from the airport test on arrival, vaccinated US passengers only have to take one more COVID-19 test on day 6 of their stay. Unvaccinated passengers, on the other hand, need to take two tests on day 6 and day 12, over and above the airport test.

Quarantine guidelines

Passengers flying in from the US will be required to wear a medically approved wristband and quarantine for seven days if they have been fully vaccinated. Passengers who are not vaccinated will have to quarantine for 10 days.


US regulations for outbound passengers

The CDC doesn’t prohibit international travel but advises travellers, especially unvaccinated travellers, to avoid travel at all costs. Wearings masks on all flights to, within and from the United States is mandatory.

It asks unvaccinated passengers flying out of the States to take a viral test 1-3 days before their trip, even if not required by the destination country.


Flights from the US to the UAE

To Dubai

Emirates offer direct flights to Dubai from states such as Los Angeles and New York.

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To Abu Dhabi

Etihad offer direct flights to Abu Dhabi.

Several other flights such as Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France offer connecting flights to Abu Dhabi. Beware of the tediously long layover hours.

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