UAE checklist for passengers looking to travel during school break next month

Many flights are now operating again, but procedures remain tight to restrict the spread of the virus

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In about a month, schools in the UAE will close for mid-term break and many families may consider a short trip overseas.

International flights have resumed to several destinations from the emirates and airlines are adding more flights to their schedules each week.

But procedures remain tight to restrict the spread of the virus.

Here, The National shares a pre-departure checklist as a reminder of the rules for everyone – including tourists – who wish to travel in and out of the UAE.

Travelling out of Dubai

Dubai has its own crisis authority and immigration service so travel rules may be different from the rest of the country.

Dubai residents do not need prior approval to travel out of the country.

However, all passengers travelling from Dubai to the UK or Europe must take a swab test no more than 96 hours before departure.

They must present the test certificate at the check-in desks. Children below the age of 12 and passengers who have moderate or severe disabilities are exempt from taking the test.

Those travelling out of Dubai are advised to check the travel requirements of other destinations.

Travellers can only use the smart gates at Dubai's Terminal 3 airport when scanning a passport, rather than using their Emirates ID.

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

Residents returning to Dubai

All Dubai residents must first seek approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) before returning to the emirate.

This is not required for residents of other emirates flying into Dubai.

There is an additional requirement for anyone flying from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Pakistan, Philippines or Sri Lanka.

In addition to the GDRFA approval, passengers from these destinations must check if they are eligible to travel to the UAE on the ICA website.

The GDRFA application can be submitted on its website, or via Emirates.

If it cannot be completed at any time due to a glitch, Emirates suggests trying after four days.

Applicants will be asked to quote the resident file number, which can be found on your visa page under ‘file’.

Once the application is approved, a GDRFA reference number will be emailed.

All passengers must also show a printout of a negative swab test taken within 96 hours of departure.

Anyone who fails to do so will not be allowed to board the flight. SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.

Passengers from some destinations are required to take a second test on arrival.


Quarantine on arrival is not standard in Dubai. People who take a test after landing must self-isolate until they get their results.

If it is negative, they are free to leave their home or hotel. Those who test positive, must follow the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) guidelines.

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

Tourists travelling to Dubai

All passengers either travelling to, or connecting through Dubai, must take a swab test within 96 hours of departure.

It must be a PCR test. Other types are not accepted.

Passengers must carry a hard copy of the result as SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.

There are designated laboratories for people flying from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Tests from other facilities are not accepted.

Some passengers may need to take a test on arrival, depending on where they are coming from. The list has not been made public.

Tourists who take a test at the airport must quarantine in their hotel until they receive the result.

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.

Travellers can only use the smart gates at Dubai's Terminal 3 airport when scanning a passport, rather than using Emirates ID. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office

Residents flying out of the rest of the UAE

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

The test must be carried out 96 hours prior to departure. A negative Covid-19 PCR 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

Approval to return is no longer required for UAE residents of the other six emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Sharjah.

However, travellers who are resident in other emirates must still follow certain procedures.

This includes updating their data, which includes a valid Emirates ID, passport number and citizenship, at This allows residents to travel with no prior approval.

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

They must also quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the result.

Some residents are asked to wear a smart bracelet for the duration of the quarantine period but all travellers must download the Al Hosn app, officials have said.

Tourists in Abu Dhabi

Tourists are not yet permitted to travel to Abu Dhabi.

"We love and want to welcome the world but we want to protect our community. In terms of welcoming back tourists, it will be at a time when we are almost winning the battle with Covid-19. It is not only about protecting our reputation as a tourist destination but about ensuring the health of all our travellers,” said Dr Taher Alameri, spokesman for National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.

“Community resilience and co-operation with the guidance and support of the leadership has proven that we can cross these hard months and it will be the fastest way to win this battle.”