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10/19/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/19/2021 21:56

ICA Approval Requirement and Update for UAE Residents: What You Need to Know

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Updated 19 October 2021

After enduring months of doubt and uncertainty, thousands of UAE residents stranded in their home countries due to the current travel suspension can now finally breathe a sigh of relief as the government announced a special category of residents now permitted to re-enter the country.

Entry is subject to the appropriate return permit based on their issued visa and destination. For non-UAE residents travelling from certain countries, approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) must first be obtained, and, if they're residing in Dubai, approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) is also required.

The following is the breakdown of the return permits for residents outside of the UAE.

Who needs ICA approval?

All UAE residents can travel to Dubai without an approval from GDRFA or ICA. However, residents travelling from the following countries will need an approval:
  1. Bangladesh
  2. India
  3. Indonesia
  4. Nigeria
  5. Pakistan
  6. Sri Lanka
  7. South Africa
  8. Uganda
  9. Vietnam
  10. Zambia.

First and foremost, if you're a holder of a Dubai residence visa travelling from a restricted country, GDRFA approval is required for your return to Dubai apart from the ICA approval. All other residence visa holders need not apply for the GDRFA approval. Approval is not needed for those who got a newly issued residence or employment visa.

As mentioned before, you must register via the ICA Smart Travel Service and obtain a QR code before you fly, even if you are travelling to Dubai or another emirate.

If you have been fully vaccinated in the UAE:

  • Register any time before you fly
  • You do not need to upload your vaccine certificate

If you've been fully vaccinated outside the UAE:

  • Register five days before your flight
  • If you do not register in time, your vaccination status may not be recognised - that means you will not receive a green pass in the Al Hosn app, and you may be required to quarantine
  • When you've registered, you'll receive a QR code by email

If you have not been vaccinated:

  • Register any time before you fly
  • When you've registered, you'll receive a QR code by email

How to get your ICA approval?

To make it easier for you, here is the complete step by step guide on how to get your ICA approval, prior to travel to the UAE.

Step 1: Visit the ICA website.
You would need to visit the ICA website.

Step 2: Fill in the application form.
Enter your details such as the Emirates ID number

Step 3: Fill in your passport details.
Next, you will be asked to fill in your passport details like type and number.

Step 4: Confirm details.
Finally, verify that the details are correct and that you will adhere to all the instructions and procedures issued by the health authorities.

Step 5: Approval notification
A resident with valid visa documents received this message instantly on entering his details: "You fullfill the requirements to enter the country, and you can proceed with the completion of your travel procedures. Wishing you continued health and wellness." If you receive a similar message, you can proceed to book your air ticket. The ICA has advised residents to use the platform to verify the authenticity of their travel documents before booking a ticket.

ICA Smart Services

To obtain the ICA approval, make sure to take advantage of the ICA Smart Services program. Residents looking to return to the UAE may access various services pertaining to visa inquiries, permit inquiries, payment of fees and fines and personal information updates.

Dubai entry requirements

Testing

Travellers from high-risk countries

Passengers arriving from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia must present:

  • A valid negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted within 48 hours, validity should be calculated from the time the sample was collected, prior to departure from an approved health facility
  • A rapid PCR test report with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within six hours of departure

Travellers from Nigeria

For passengers travelling to Dubai as their final destination from Nigeria, travel is currently not possible as there is no rapid PCR testing facilities at the airport.

Travellers from the UK

All passengers travelling to Dubai from the UK must hold a negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure and the certificate must be a Reverse Transcription‑Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT‑PCR) test. Note that NHS Covid Test certificates are not accepted for travel from the United Kingdom.

Travellers from other countries

All passengers travelling to Dubai from any point of origin (GCC countries included) must hold a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

Test certificate requirements

The certificate must be a Reverse Transcription‑Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT‑PCR) test. Other test certificates including antibody tests, NHS COVID Test certificates, Rapid PCR tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai. Travellers must bring an official printed or digital certificate in English or Arabic to check in - SMS certificates are not accepted. PCR certificates in other languages are acceptable if they can be validated at the originating station.

COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test certificates must be issued by an authorised facility in the passenger's departure country. Certificates that have already been presented for travel to another destination can't be used for re‑entry even if they are still within the validity period.

For passengers arriving from the following countries, it is mandatory that the COVID‑19 PCR report includes a QR code linked to the original report for verification purposes. The QR code must be presented at check‑in and to representatives of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) upon arrival in Dubai airports: Indonesia, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Test on arrival

Passengers arriving in Dubai from the following countries will be required to take another COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International airport:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Abu Dhabi entry requirements

Testing

If you are travelling to Abu Dhabi, you must:

  • take the PCR test 72 hours before your flight, if you are flying from the United Kingdom. If you're flying to Abu Dhabi as your final destination, take your test 48 hours before your flight departure time.
  • download the ALHOSN UAE app on your mobile phones before you travel to Abu Dhabi
  • undergo a thermal screening and another COVID-19 PCR testing on arrival at Abu Dhabi airport.

The rules apply to all travellers, except children under the age of 12.

Quarantine

Guidelines for vaccinated passengers

  • If you are coming from green countries, you do not need to quarantine yourself. However, you will need to do an RT-PCR test on arrival and on day 6 from arrival.
  • If you are coming from other countries, you do not need to quarantine yourself. You will need to do an RT-PCR test on arrival, day 4 and day 8 from arrival.

To be fully vaccinated, you must have received two doses of the same vaccine at least 14 days before departure. Information about the vaccine must be documented on the Al Hosn app.

Guidelines for non-vaccinated passengers

  • If you are coming from green countries, you do not need to quarantine yourself. However, you will need to do an RT-PCR test on arrival, days 6 and 9 from arrival.
  • If you are coming from other countries, you must quarantine yourself for 10 days. Additionally, you will need to do an RT-PCR test on arrival and on day 9 from arrival.

If you have arrived from a country that the UAE authorities deem are high-risk, then you will be subject to quarantine at a government facility.