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Visas and Passports in the United Arab Emirates

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: March 2014

Passports

To enter the UAE, you will always need a valid passport or an equivalent travel document if you are a stateless person or refugee. Passports and other travel documents must be valid for at least three months after the date of your arrival for a short stay, and six months if you want to stay long-term.

Having an Israeli stamp on your passport will not necessarily hinder your entry into the UAE. However, if you intend to work in the country, you may be subjected to further checks and it is possible you will be denied entry. This is considerably more likely to happen if you are of partial and especially full Israeli nationality. The situation varies from emirate to emirate, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the most accepting.

In addition to a valid passport, you may need a visa to immigrate into the UAE.

 

Free Admission

If you are a citizen of another Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country, that is, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or Saudi Arabia, you will not need a visa to enter the UAE; just your passport will suffice. Furthermore, you are generally free to remain in the country for as long as you like.

Citizens of many European and some North American and Far Eastern countries can apply for a free short stay visa. This allows a stay in the UAE of up to 30 days. This visa is normally given out at the airport on arrival. A list of the countries to which this currently applies is available under ‘Other Nationalities’ on this page:

https://www.fina.org/H2O/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3630&Itemid=1129

An extension of the short stay to 90 days is possible, though, for longer stays, citizens of these countries will need a visa. Citizens of all other countries will always require a visa.

 

Types of Visa

There are several types of visa available for those who want to settle in the UAE for at least some time.

You can enter the country to look for work on a visit visa, with an aim to staying long-term. You will need to secure a job, obtain a residence visa and a labour card before starting work.

A multiple-entry visa is appropriate for those who need to travel in and out of the country, such as business people. This visa only enables you to stay in the UAE for 30 days at a time. It is valid for six months and cannot be renewed.

Other long-term visas that are available are for residence and employment visas. See ‘Settlement, Residence and Citizenship’ and ‘Working in the UAE’ respectively for more details on these visas.

 

Visa Application

If you want to live or work long term in the Emirates, you will need to arrange sponsorship and obtain a visa before you leave your home country. Your sponsor will need to write a letter to the UAE embassy and provide proof that their finances are sound.

You can apply for your visa online or in person at the nearest UAE embassy. All visa application forms are available in Arabic and English. Whichever visa you apply for, in addition to the visa application form (completed in triplicate) you will need the following documents:

  • valid passport (with at least one blank page)
  • three colour passport photos
  • visa fee receipt
  • birth certificate (under 18s only)
  • marriage certificate (unaccompanied women over 30)

Note that if you are an unmarried woman under 30 travelling alone, you will not be able to gain entry into the UAE. You may also run into problems if you are married but have a different surname than your husband.

The UAE is small and does not have diplomatic representation in all the world’s countries. If there is no Emirati embassy or consulate in your country, you can generally find representation at another GCC country’s embassy. If there is no GCC embassy, the UAE should be represented by another Arabic-speaking country such as Egypt. Alternatively, you can contact the Emirati mission that is closest to you. The visa application system is very efficient and processing can take as little as three days.

 

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