Coronavirus explained: the latest rule changes regarding travel to the UAE

Dubai tightens rules for people arriving into the emirate as case numbers surge

An Emirates staff member assists a passenger at Dubai International Airport. 
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Dubai's crisis authority updated the rules for travellers arriving in the emirate after a surge in case numbers in the UAE.

All passengers arriving into Dubai, including from countries in the GCC, must produce a negative PCR test certificate taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Other travel rules remain the same.

So what are they? The National explains.

Travelling out of Dubai

Rules on travel out of Dubai are unchanged.

But people should check the travel requirements at their destination before flying. Rules change frequently.

Countries that require negative tests to enter include the UK.

As of January 12, travellers in the UAE must also self-isolate for 10 days.

This comes after the Emirates was removed the UK's air corridor list, which exempts passengers from certain countries from having to quarantine on arrival.

Passengers must present a test certificate at check-in desks before boarding, if they are a precondition to fly.

Children below the age of 12 and passengers who have moderate or severe disabilities are exempt from taking the test.

Travelling to Dubai

All passengers arriving into Dubai – including from GCC countries – must produce a negative PCR test certificate taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

If you hold a valid Dubai residence visa and you are flying back to Dubai, you must have return approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. GDRFA approval is only for Dubai residence visa holders.

UAE citizens – irrespective of the country they are coming from and the time spent there – can return to Dubai without having to take a PCR swab test before they board the flight. They will, however, take the Covid-19 test once they land.

Anyone who has been in South Africa within the past 14 days will not be permitted to enter Dubai. This includes transiting in other countries within 14 days before travelling to Dubai.

Some passengers require “double testing”, meaning they need to show a negative Covid test on check-in, and then be screened again on arrival in the emirate, quarantining in hotels or homes until the results are ready.

Requirements can be checked here.

Transit passengers previously required a negative test if they were stopping off in Dubai.

But that is no longer necessary in all cases.

A pre-travel PCR test for transit passengers is mandatory from some countries and when the destination countries requires travellers to have a negative result.

Children under the age of 12 and children with moderate to severe disabilities are exempt from the test requirements.

Anyone who takes a test on arrival must quarantine until they receive their results.

If positive, they must isolate and follow the DHA guidelines. Those who do not require a second test do not need to quarantine.

Everyone needs to download the Covid-19 DXB Smart App.

Flying out of the rest of the UAE

Those leaving Abu Dhabi International Airport on an Etihad flight are required to take a PCR swab test, regardless of their destination.

The test must be carried out between 48, 72 or 96 hours ahead of departure, depending on the destination.

A negative Covid-19 test result is required to obtain approval to board.

The rule has been in force since August 16.

Returning to the rest of the UAE

UAE residents arriving in the other six emirates – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah – must also follow certain rules.

This includes updating data, which includes a valid Emirates ID, passport number and citizenship, at They should then receive an instant verification allowing travel.

Everyone arriving into Abu Dhabi International Airport is required to take a test on arrival among other requirements.

Travellers from green destinations do not need to isolate once they receive a negative test result. Travellers from other countries need to self-isolate for 10 days. The green list is updated at least every two weeks.

Tourists are tested on arrival in Sharjah. They must stay in their hotel rooms until they receive their results through a text message or app notification. But they can move around freely if the result is negative.