India-Dubai flights: airlines say vaccination proof not needed to fly home

Uploading a vaccination certificate now appears to be optional on the GDFRA immigration website

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Indians flying back to Dubai do not need to carry a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, Emirates airline said on Tuesday.

In an update on its website and on Twitter, the airline said a "vaccine certificate was no longer a requirement". However, all passengers must carry a negative result from a PCR test taken in the previous 48 hours.

Passenger flights from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Nigeria were halted earlier this year because of the coronavirus situation.

Last week, restrictions were eased to allow the return of people who were stranded abroad when the new rules came into effect in April and May. Travellers must hold a residency visa and have been vaccinated in the Emirates, not abroad.

But the rules now appear to have been further eased to allow people to reach home.

Emirates said all travellers must still secure pre-approval on the website of the GDFRA immigration authority, which sends passengers a permit to show to airlines when booking.

But on Wednesday, the website showed that uploading proof of vaccination was now "optional". The authority did not comment on the apparent change.

In contrast, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, which oversees immigration for the other six emirates, requires residents to upload their vaccination certificate when they apply to fly home.

In a circular sent to travel agencies, Indian airline Vistara said: "Regardless of vaccination status, customers will be welcomed on Vistara flights to Dubai."

On Sunday, the UAE's National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority eased capacity restrictions on malls, restaurants and weddings. In addition, it said each of the emirates could now adjust the rules as they saw fit, while ensuring that federal rules, such as the wearing of masks in all public places, are enforced.

Last week, when flight restrictions on the six countries were eased, UAE residents not were allowed to return home unless they had been vaccinated when they were last at home in the Emirates.

This included people who received Covishield, the name given to Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine when it is made on licence by the Serum Institute of India, and other vaccines given abroad.

Children under the age of 18 are also exempt from PCR test requirements.

Passengers 18 years and older must also have a negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before their flight is scheduled to depart. Only PCR test results from certified labs that issue a QR code linked to the original report are accepted.

Passengers must take a PCR rapid test four hours before their flight. A rapid antigen test will not be accepted and another PCR test is needed on arrival in Dubai.

Emirates earlier reminded passengers that unvaccinated children, students and people working in education, healthcare or for the government are exempt from vaccination requirements.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 2:34 PM