United Arab Emirates (Travel Restrictions, COVID Tests & Quarantine Requirements)

This page was last updated on 13 May 2022

Is the UAE open for visitors?

While the travel rules and requirements vary slightly among the individual emirates, the UAE is generally open to international visitors. 

Can tourists travel to the UAE?

The UAE is open for tourist visa applications for travellers from essentially all countries. The ban on African countries has also been lifted. The country is also easing the Covid-19 protocols by scrapping the PCR test requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals in the country.

Nevertheless, tourists still need to go through some entry procedures depending on the Emirate they are visiting and also their country of origin.

Can residents return to the UAE?

Yes, they can. As confirmed by the flag carriers of the UAE, the GDRFA or ICA approval is no longer required by the UAE residents travelling to the UAE. Therefore, UAE residents from all over the globe can now travel to the UAE  without pre-travel or registration on the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP/ICA) portal.

However, emirates like Sharjah and Abu Dhabi still require residents or tourists to register their vaccination and entry status in the ICA smart services portal.

As per the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), Emirati and GCC citizens can enter the UAE using their ID cards; they no longer need to present their passport on arrival.

All arrivals including residents travelling to Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah are not required to obtain approval from the ICA. Instead, all travellers with a newly issued e-visa must register through ICA Smart Travel Services prior to departure. 

What are the UAE’s vaccine requirements?

The UAE government does not require international arrivals to have been fully vaccinated for entry. However, non or partially vaccinated travellers may be denied entry to public places in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other emirates.

Entry to most public places in Abu Dhabi will be permitted only to individuals who can present the ‘Green’ status on the Al Hosn app. Alternatively, those without the Al Hosn app can provide proof of full vaccination via either a full vaccination certificate from their home country or by showing full vaccination status in their home country mobile app. A negative PCR test result within the last 14 days will also be accepted.

Additionally, Abu Dhabi has scrapped the green list and fully vaccinated travellers no longer need a test before flying to Abu Dhabi.

UAE-approved vaccines are as follows:

  • Sinopharm
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Sputnik V
  • Sputnik Light
  • Moderna
  • Recombinant SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (CHO Cell)

Source: United Arab Emirates – COVID19 Vaccine Tracker (trackvaccines.org) 

What are the UAE’s testing and quarantine requirements?

Dubai

Travellers departing to Dubai from all countries (GCC included) must have any one of the following:

  • A valid vaccination certificate reflecting that the passenger is fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the UAE, and should include a QR code system; or
  • A negative COVID 19 PCR test report that was issued within 48 hours from the time of sample collection and issued by an approved health centre, with a QR code system; or
  • A valid medical certificate (issued by the relevant authorities) stating that the passenger has recovered from COVID-19 within a period of 1 month from the date of recovery to the date of arrival, with a QR code system.

Travellers may need to take another COVID 19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport. If the test result is positive, they will be required to undergo quarantine and follow the Dubai Health Authority guidelines. They must also download the COVID‑19 – DXB Smart App for iOS or Android. 

Please note that printed or digital PCR test certificates or vaccination certificates are accepted in English or Arabic and must include a QR code. However, SMS certificates are not accepted.

Additionally, the COVID‑19 PCR test or vaccination certificates in other languages are acceptable if they can be validated at the departure point. COVID‑19 vaccination certificates without a QR code can be accepted for travel to Dubai as long as the vaccination certificate is issued by test centres or organizations recognized and approved by the national health authorities of the country.

Exemptions

Please note that UAE nationals arriving from all countries to Dubai are NOT required to present any PCR or vaccination certificate. However, there will be random PCR testing on arrival in Dubai.

An exemption from this requirement is also extended to the below categories of passengers travelling to Dubai from all destinations:

  • First degree relatives of a UAE national travelling on the same flight
  • Domestic workers travelling with a UAE national sponsor

Furthermore, the following categories are also exempt from PCR test and vaccination requirements:

  • Children below 12 years old.
  • Passengers with moderate to severe disabilities:
    • 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.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has now scrapped the green list and permits travel from all nations. Arrivals to Abu Dhabi, no longer need to undertake a pre-departure test before flying to the emirate if they are fully vaccinated, hold a COVID-19 recovery certificate or are under 16 years old. Additionally, passengers are not required to undergo a PCR test on arrival in Abu Dhabi, irrespective of their vaccination status.

Please note that travellers can still undergo an on-arrival PCR test at their own expense. It costs Dh40 to take a test at the Arrivals testing facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). The PCR test facility at AUH is still available in the same location for arrivals as an optional service for passengers who would like to activate their Green Pass on AlHosn App, which is mandatory to enter many facilities in Abu Dhabi.

Fully vaccinated arrivals

Fully vaccinated arrivals can present a valid vaccination certificate reflecting that the passenger is fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the UAE. The certificate should also include a QR code system.

Non-vaccinated arrivals

Passengers who are not vaccinated travelling to Abu Dhabi must present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure or a Covid-19 recovery certificate with a QR code dated within 30 days of departure. Children younger than 16 are exempt from this requirement.

Vaccination is not mandatory for entry to Abu Dhabi and quarantine measures have been done away with. Unless you are an Emirati, UAE residents need to register via the ICA Smart Travel Service before flying to Abu Dhabi.

Unvaccinated Emirati citizens will also need to present a PCR test undertaken within 48 of departure. Such travellers also required to have the green pass on their Al Hosn app to be granted entry.

Sharjah

Following are the latest updates on the procedures and requirements for travelling through Sharjah airport:

Fully vaccinated arrivals

Fully vaccinated arrivals can present a valid vaccination certificate reflecting that the passenger is fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the UAE. The certificate should also include a QR code system.

Non-vaccinated arrivals

Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated inbound travellers will need a negative COVID 19 PCR test report that was issued within 48 hours from the time of sample collection and issued by an approved health centre, with a QR code system.

Children under the age of 16 and UAE Nationals are exempt from all PCR tests. Travellers will be required to present a physical copy of the report at the check-in counter.

Transiting in the UAE

Dubai

All travellers transiting in Dubai are not required to present a COVID 19 PCR test certificate unless it is mandated by their final destination.

Abu Dhabi

Transiting in Abu Dhabi is allowed for a maximum of 12 hours. Travellers must take their test 72 hours before their first flight departure time unless the testing requirements at your final destination are 48 hours. Travellers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test since rapid tests are not accepted.

If travellers are unable to meet this requirement, Abu Dhabi airport provides testing services for travellers in transit. Travellers will need to check the travel requirements of their final destination to determine when to take their required test. 

Travelling within the UAE

Entry to Abu Dhabi

At present, all commuters (passengers and vehicle drivers) and visitors travelling to Abu Dhabi from within the UAE must have a green pass on their Al Hosn app to be able to enter. 

The green pass will be activated for 14 days for those who have been fully vaccinated and are in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. To maintain the vaccination status, users must receive a booster dose if the second dose was administered six months or earlier. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are exempt from taking a vaccine or booster dose for 90 days.

UAE residents need to take a timely vaccine booster shot to maintain Green status on the AlHosn app. This requirement does not apply to tourists.

Non-vaccinated travellers who have yet to receive an official exemption, those who have not had a booster shot or failed to take a PCR test in the last 30 days will have a grey status on the Al Hosn app. Consequently, they will not be granted entry unless they are in possession of a negative PCR test result issued within 96 hours.

Please note that visitors with an official vaccine exemption must receive a negative PCR test result every 7 days to maintain the Green status. The PCR test must have been performed in the UAE.

Children aged under 12 years automatically receive the Green status without the need to be vaccinated or to take a PCR test. Similarly, children aged 12 to 15 years do not need to be vaccinated. However, they do need to undergo a PCR test to receive the Green status on the AlHosn app.

Exit requirements for UAE citizens

Under the UAE travel protocol for UAE Nationals, all citizens over 18 years of age looking to travel abroad must meet one of the following requirements to travel:

  • must have completed 3 doses of any approved vaccine: or
  • must have completed 2 doses and have recovered from COVID‑19 infection; or
  • must have completed two doses of any approved vaccine and the second dose within 6 months, or
  • must have recovered from a COVID‑19 infection not more than 3 months from the date of the recovery certificate, regardless of the number of vaccine doses received; or
  • must have received a single dose of Janssen COVID‑19 Vaccine within the last two 2 months of the date of planned travel.

The following categories of UAE Nationals are exempted from the specified travel conditions provided they obtain an official letter from the relevant health authority in the UAE:

  • individuals medically exempted from taking the vaccine
  • humanitarian cases
  • individuals travelling for medical and/or treatment purposes

Any exception must be obtained by the individuals from the relevant authorities before arrival at the airport or making travel arrangements.