COVID-19: Can I land at Dubai airport if I have a visa issued from Abu Dhabi?

Stock Dubai airport passengers
These are the latest guidelines issued by Dubai Airports (DXB)
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: What are the regulations that residents of an emirate have to follow if they land at an airport in another emirate in the UAE? This was the query raised by a Gulf News reader.

He wrote in, asking: “I would like to request Gulf News to clarify some information that I need – I have been out of the UAE for the past seven months and want to come back to work. The issue is that I hold an Abu Dhabi visa and my flight arrives at Dubai International Airport. Is it possible to arrive in Dubai or should I arrive at Abu Dhabi airport, because I hear the rules have changed. Could you please advise?”

According to the latest guidelines published by Dubai Airports (DXB) website – – while there is no restriction on UAE residents holding visas issued by non-Dubai emirates arriving at the airport, they would require an approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).

How to apply for approval

According to the ICA, residents with a valid residence visa issued by the ICA can confirm entry or re-entry to the UAE, by entering their passport number, which has a valid residence permit, on this website:

Immigration officer at Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport

Arriving in the UAE after more than six months outside the country

On July 10, 2020, the UAE Cabinet approved several amendments to rules for visas and Emirates ID, which were made during the peak of COVID-19 and announced the resumption of normalcy in the functions of ICA. According to the amendments, ICA would grant expatriate residents who are outside the UAE and whose residence visa expired after March 1, 2020, or who have been staying outside the UAE for more than six months, a specific period to return to the UAE from the date of the opening of the airspace between the UAE and the country of their present residence. This period would be determined by ICA. By applying for the approval request on the ICA website, the residents would be able to confirm if they are allowed re-entry.

GDRFA, which issues visas in Dubai, also confirmed that residents who have been outside the UAE for over six months can return, after applying for a GDRFA approval.

Latest guidelines for arriving at Dubai Airport

The latest COVID-19 updates published on the Dubai Airports (DXB) website on October 19, provide the following guidelines that UAE nationals and residents need to follow:

• All UAE residents, holding a valid residency visa, must carry out a COVID-19 RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test before arriving into DXB, no more than 96 hours before their scheduled flight departure time, at an officially recognised testing centre.

• UAE nationals are exempt from this requirement and will be tested on arrival.

• The negative COVID-19 PCR test result must be presented in printed certificate format by the traveller on arrival to DXB. The certificate must be in English or Arabic only. No handwritten certificates will be permitted.

• All Dubai residents must get approvals from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) before returning to DXB.

• Residence visa holders from other emirates must get approvals from ICA before returning to DXB.

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

• On arrival to DXB, UAE residents and nationals must download and register on the COVID-19 DXB Smart App.

• UAE nationals and residents departing from DXB are advised to follow the requirements of their final destination, as some may require an additional negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate to be presented before leaving DXB.

What if I am an Abu Dhabi resident arriving at Sharjah Airport

Sharjah airport
Sharjah International Airport
Image Credit: Supplied

On October 13, Air Arabia, which has its headquarters in Sharjah said only Abu Dhabi and Al Ain residents are required to obtain green signal from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).

Passengers with residence visa issued by Abu Dhabi or Al Ain should visit the ICA website for UAE entry to verify their entry status. Residents of other emirates are not required to arrange prior approval.

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