Coronavirus: All travellers must now be tested before their flight to UAE

Negative Covid-19 test report must be presented at check-in desks before boarding flights

A tourist receives instruction at Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates on July 8, 2020, as the country reopened its doors to international visitors in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure. / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Powered by automated translation

The UAE has brought in mandatory testing for all airline passengers travelling to the country.

Travellers must undergo tests in their country and present a negative test report at check-in desks before flying to the Emirates.

The new system will be in place from August 1.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (Ncema) said the rules applied to "all Emiratis, residents, and tourists, arriving via the country's airports, irrespective of the countries they are coming from", according to state news agency Wam.

Coronavirus: All travellers must now be tested before their flight to UAE

Coronavirus: All travellers must now be tested before their flight to UAE

The rules also apply to all transit passengers passing through the UAE, including Dubai, which was previously exempt from some decisions.

There is a list of clinics in more than 100 cities that are recognised by the UAE authorities. If you cannot find one, you can contact your airline for advice.

Passengers should still expect to be tested a second time when they arrive at any UAE airport.

Passengers from 29 countries to be tested twice if travelling to Dubai

Travelling rules vary in Dubai. The emirate will halt blanket testing on arriving passengers next week, it was announced on July 26.

Instead, people from just 29 countries will have to undergo a nasal swab when they land.

This is different from the federal government rules, which requires everyone travelling to the country, including Emiratis, residents and tourists, to present a certificate to prove they are free from Covid-19 before they board their flight.

Dubai has now released a list of countries whose passengers will be required to take a second PCR swab test when they land in the emirate from August 1.

The countries on the list, released by Dubai Airports and Emirates, include several countries with a high number of daily new cases, such as Russia and Brazil, and nations without recognised testing centres.

Click here for the full list of the countries.

To date, all passengers landing in Dubai have been tested when they landed at the airport but this will stop on August 1.

Roy Cooper / The National
Roy Cooper / The National

Tests for UAE residents heading to UK and European Union

In addition, Ncema and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said all UAE residents flying to the UK and European Union nations must be tested for Covid-19 before they leave the Emirates. The PCR nasal swab test can be taken in any recognised clinic in the country and costs about Dh370.

Children under the age of 12 and those with significant disabilities will be exempted from the testing, which is valid for 96 hours from the date the test is taken.

Travellers arriving in the UAE also have a 96-hour window of validity on their PCR test.

Ncema said previously announced rules relating to testing and quarantine may still apply. As previously announced, travellers must self-isolate for two weeks after arriving in the UAE.

Those who fail to adhere to quarantine guidelines will face legal action.

Previously, Dubai, which has its own crisis authority and immigration service, made exceptions for travel, testing and quarantine. Travellers who land in Dubai must self-isolate until the results of their PCR tests are released. If negative, there is no need to self-isolate for two weeks.

This month, the UAE relaxed its restrictions for people leaving the country.

Citizens and residents were allowed to travel abroad as long as they adhere to various Covid-19 measures, including being tested on their return and applying for permission to reenter from the country's ICA or GDRFA immigration services.

Hope for an October tourism recovery

Meanwhile, travel agents arranging holidays for tourists headed to the UAE said they would have to wait a bit longer for the business to pick up.

Eugenio Malatacca, a specialist travel agent based in Dubai, had hoped to see a rush of Italian tourists in August, when continental Europeans book weeks off work, but said it would probably be October before numbers rise.

Since July 7, when tourists were allowed back to Dubai, he has only arranged a trip for a single Italian tourist.

“It went very smoothly, she did the test upon arrival and was out of the airport within 32 minutes," he said.

He said the small number of approved clinics in Italy made it difficult for travellers to get tested before flying to the UAE.

There are only four main centres in northern Italy that do Covid-19 tests, “so imagine if someone in Palermo or Napoli wants to do the test, they will have to go all the way to Milan to do it", he said.

He said few clinics in Italy now offer a PCR nasal swab. "There is no way to find those swabs now, everything went out of stock after the crisis," he said.

“They are only providing the blood serological tests, which check if you have been infected before or not, they don’t tell you if you are positive or negative."