New entry restrictions at Oman’s border with the UAE will come into force on March 15 to protect against the spread of coronavirus in the region.
The Oman government’s supreme committee announced a one-month suspension of all tourist visas from Sunday, while also enforcing a month-long ban on cruise ships visiting the country.
Omani officials confirmed restrictions on tourist visas would be in place from March 15.
A tightening of visas has limited the options for UAE visitors hoping to extend their stay in the Emirates.
Some with tourist visas due to expire had planned a renewal stamp at the Oman border on Friday, before finding border officials had ceased stamping visa renewals two days earlier than planned at some crossings.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said she had driven almost two hours to renew her temporary visitor’s visa, only to be turned away at the Al Dhara border.
“I am a long-term resident of the UAE but after recently getting married I am in the process of transferring onto my husband’s visa,” she said.
“I had just under 40 days left so I wanted to get it sorted before more restrictions on travel come in.
“We were told the Hatta border was still open, but that was another couple of hours away from where we were.
“There is a lot of confusion about where we can go. People are worried about being fined. I’ve had a visa for 16 years so I’ve not had to do this before.”
The most popular crossings to Oman are at the Al Wajajah border near Wadi Hatta, Kalba and Mezyad Hafeed and Khatam Al Shukhla boundary point in Al Ain.
Tourist visas can also be renewed at Al Dhara in Ras Al Khaimah.
Applicants must pay a Dh35 exit visa when leaving the UAE at the border and an entry visa into Oman costs about Dh200.
Omani officials said people currently in the country could still extend their visas, but those with approved visas who were yet to enter Oman would not be allowed in from Sunday.
For UAE residents, a grace period of 30 days after a visa has expired is offered by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) before fines are imposed.
Tourists have an extra nine days grace period before a fine of Dh360 and further daily penalties of Dh100 are enforced, if their 30-day visa has expired.
Visa renewal costs at the border can be considerably cheaper than the fees of about Dh750 at a GDRFA office.
Keren Bobker, an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, offers advice on social media page, British Expats Dubai.
“I am telling people to check with the authorities before doing anything as the situation is changing daily,” she said.
“There has always been the option to renew a tourist visa at a GDFRA office, although people do the visa runs as they are cheaper.
“People have been confused as the news from Oman was that this would not take place until March 15 and the answers so far have not been consistent at all UAE-Oman border crossings.”