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Entering UAE: Guide for returning expats to emirates


DUBAI – UAE federal rules have relaxed to allow expatriates with valid UAE residence visas to re-enter the emirates. Here’s all you need to know

Returning to Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain

Holders of UAE residence visas issued in Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain will not need prior approval to return to the emirate.

However, it is mandatory for travelers to undergo a PCR test for Covid-19 not earlier than 96 hours before the date of travel and the results must be negative.

Returning to Dubai

Dubai residence visa holders arriving at the Dubai airport will need approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) to return to the UAE. Go to GDRFA permit page

Expats with residence visas issued in other emirates but are arriving in Dubai will need approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), according to a Dubai Airports spokesperson.

Travellers to Dubai must under go a PCR nasal swab test in their home country and show their negative test to check-in staff and when they land in Dubai.

Residents of certain countries are tested on arrival at Dubai airport, in addition to the test they would have undergone in their home country.

Arriving at Sharjah airport

As of October 17, expats with residence visas issued in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and are arriving at Sharjah airport will need travel approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).

Travelers will undergo PCR test upon arrival at the Sharjah airport. The expenses of health isolation of positive cases will be covered by travellers or their sponsors. They will have to self-quarantine at their hotel or place of residence until the results of the PCR test.

Arriving at Ras Al Khaimah airport

Expatriate residents will be allowed to enter Ras Al Khaimah through the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport from October 15 without obtaining prior permission. Arriving travellers will still need to undergo medical testing and obtain a negative Covid-19 test result before returning within a period not exceeding 96 hours.

Red vs green ICA message: What to check before returning to UAE

Expats returning to the UAE have been advised to get a “green” message from the ICA before returning to the emirates to avoid travel disruptions.

UAE residence visa holders returning to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and other emirates except Dubai no longer need to get prior ICA approval, however, the ICA advised travelers to update their record and check the validity of their travel documents through the website

On the ICA website, residents can get a message regarding their travel plans. A green message tells travellers they “fulfil the requirements to enter the country” and “proceed with the completion of your travel procedures”.

However, a red message indicates “possibility of rescheduling your travel date after 60 days to preserve your safety”.

Step-by-step guide before traveling to UAE

1. For passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, other emirates: Check the validity of your travel documents on Key in your Emirates ID number, passport number, passport type and nationality.

For Dubai residents: Get pre-travel approval from the GDRFA

2. Check for pre-travel approvals in your home country. Tourists must have international health insurance

3. Get a Covid-19 test at an approved centre (test must be taken not more than 96 hours prior to your flight)

4. Book your airline tickets

5. On travel date, sign a Health Declaration Form and download Al Hosn app (DXB Smart App for those arriving in Dubai)

ICA/Expat Media


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