Can I go on holiday from the UAE with children and which countries need a Covid vaccine?

Under-18s do not need to be vaccinated to travel

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Read also: Quarantine-free summer travel from Dubai

Inoculated adults are likely to find it easier to travel this summer, but many families are asking if they can travel safely with their unvaccinated children.

Coronavirus vaccines for children were approved only recently after successful clinical trials and assessments, but a big percentage of young people have not been vaccinated.

The UAE approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15 on May 13.

But vaccinated parents can travel with unvaccinated children because no country requires under-18s to have had an inoculation.

Instead, children are asked to take a  Covid-19 test before they travel, depending on their age.

The requirements for each country are different, and change regularly depending on whether the UAE is on their red, amber or green list.

Check for the latest rules on the Emirates website or on the IATA travel regulations website.

To get a sense of how these requirements differ, The National considered the 19 countries that now allow quarantine-free travel from the UAE for vaccinated travellers. Many of these countries still require PCR testing for adults, even if they are immunised.

Europe & Russia

• Cyprus – children below 12 are exempt from taking a PCR test before or after the flight.

• Greece – children over the age of six must show a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before the scheduled arrival. Adults and children over the age of six will be subjected to random rapid testing on arrival.

• Spain – children below six years old are not required to take a test. All other non-vaccinated passengers must have a negative test report 48 hours before boarding. A test on arrival is not needed unless the health authority deems it necessary.

• France – children below 11 years old are not required to take the PCR test to board. There is random testing on arrival. It is worth noting that Sinopharm is not an approved vaccine in France.

• Italy – only infants up to two years old are exempt from taking the tests. All other passengers travelling from the UAE should take a test 48 hours before the flight and on arrival.

• Russia – all non citizens, including children, must present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before their time of arrival. Passengers do not need a second test on arrival. Russian citizens are not required to take a test before travel, but they must take two tests at a Russian clinic within five days of arrival and register and upload a negative result.

A child, 9, is held by her mother as she receives the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine during a clinical trial for children at Duke University in the US. Reuters

Middle East

• Turkey – passengers younger than six years old are exempt from the PCR test requirement. Older travellers must have a PCR test not more than 72 hours before arrival, or a rapid antigen test within 48 hours of arrival. There could be random testing in Turkey.

• Jordan – children below five years old are not required to take a PCR test before departure or on arrival.

• Lebanon – children under 12 are exempt from showing a negative PCR test before departure, and from being tested on arrival.

• Bahrain – children under six years of age are exempt from testing before departure or on arrival.

• Egypt – those below 12 years need not be tested to board the flight. There is no test on arrival.


• Maldives – infants less than a year old are exempt from taking a pre‑arrival PCR test. There is no second test for all passengers.

• Seychelles – all travellers, including infants and children, regardless of vaccination status, must have a negative PCR certificate. The country does not ask travellers to be tested for a second time on arrival.

• Phuket (from July 2) – children under 12 years old can travel to Phuket without taking a test. Passengers between 12 and 17 years can take a rapid antigen test on arrival at Hong Kong airport at their own expense. All others will need a negative result before boarding the flight and will be tested a second time at the Hong Kong airport. They will not be tested at the airports in Thailand.


• Kenya – passengers below five years old are exempt from taking the PCR test. There is no test on arrival.

• Tanzania – children 10 years and below are not required to take a PCR test. They are also exempt from taking a rapid antigen test on arrival in Dar es Salaam. It is mandatory for all others.

• Morocco – children below 11 are exempt from taking a PCR test before they travel, and are not required to complete a rapid test on arrival, which is needed for other passengers.

US & Mexico

• United States – passengers two years and older are required to get a Covid-19 viral test (nucleic acid amplification / PCR test or a viral antigen test) within 72 hours of departure to the US. Those younger than two can travel freely. There is no test on arrival.

• Mexico (from July 2) – there are no Covid-19 test requirements for entry to Mexico.

Returning to the UAE

Children under the age of 12 are not required to show a negative PCR test on arrival in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

But many of the rules regarding PCR tests depend on the departure requirements of the country you are leaving, so check with IATA or your airline for the latest details at least 72 hours before your flight.

Plan ahead because PCR test results may take time.

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