With effect from August 30, 2021, the United Arab Emirates resumed issuing tourist visas to only fully-vaccinated nationals of the countries, including India, tourist arrivals from where had been suspended hitherto. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) made this announcement jointly on August 28. The UAE’s entry guidelines include certain conditions to be met by UAE tourist visa holders from India and other countries.
“This was the most-awaited good news for Indians who are subject to Joe Biden’s presidential proclamation 10199 and not eligible for National Interest Exception (NIE). Having a UAE tourist visa, they can bypass the US entry restrictions via Dubai or Abu Dhabi. They can take a 14-day stopover in Dubai or Abu Dhabi before traveling onward to the United States. If your travel or return to the US is urgent, you can book a multi-city trip to USA from India with a 14/15-day stopover in the UAE. Many Indians, including those on B2 visa, have bypassed the US entry ban via Doha, Qatar,” said the chief travel advisor of Indian Eagle, a leading air-ticketing partner of Indians in America.
UAE’s travel guidelines for tourists from India
A UAE tourist visa is valid for 30 or 90 days for single or multiple entries. Starting August 30, the UAE issues tourist visas to only Covishield-vaccinated Indians. The UAE tourist visa will not be granted to those inoculated with two doses of Covaxin unless this vaccine is approved by the WHO. Below is the list of WHO-approved vaccines that make Indians and other foreign nationals eligible for entry to the UAE:
- Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine
- SII/Covishield and AstraZeneca/AZD1222
- Janssen/Ad26.COV 2.S
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA 1273)
- Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine
- Jamalika (Sputnik V) vaccine
If the UAE tourist visa holders register their full-vaccination status through the ICA platform or AL HOSN App (available in Google Play and Apple App stores for free download), they will be able to avail the benefits provided to those vaccinated in the UAE during their stay or stopover in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
As per the UAE’s entry guidelines for tourist visa holders, Indians need to take a COVID PCR test twice before boarding flights to Dubai or Abu Dhabi from India. They must take an RT-PCR test not more than 48 hours prior to catching the flight. The test report must be issued by a certified lab within 48 hours and have a QR code linking to the original certificate. They also have to take a rapid PCR test within 6 hours prior to scheduled departure from the origin airport in India. On testing negative in both the tests, India tourists can travel to the UAE. They will undergo a PCR test on arrival at an entry airport in the UAE.
Please note rapid antigen test reports are not accepted in the UAE. With major Indian airports conducting rapid PCR tests for UAE-bound travelers, it is easy to get a Rapid PCR report before boarding. Delhi IGI Airport, Chennai MAA Airport, Kempegowda BLR Airport, Mumbai CSMI Airport, Kochi COK Airport, Ahmedabad International Airport, Trivandrum International Airport, Calicut International Airport, Hyderabad RGI Airport, Kolkata International Airport, and Lucknow International Airport have Rapid PCR testing facilities.
Rapid PCR test costs at airports in India:
- Mumbai Airport: Rs 4500 per person; reports available in 1-2 hours
- Delhi IGI Airport: Rs 5000 per person; reports available in one hour
- Bengaluru Airport: Rs 3200 per person; reports available within 2 hours
- Hyderabad Airport: Rs 6000 per person; reports available in one hour
- Chennai Airport: Rs 4000 per person; reports available within one hour
- Cochin Airport: Rs 2500 per person; reports available within one hour
- Trivandrum Airport: Rs 2500 per person; reports available within one hour
- Calicut Airport: Rs 2500 per person; reports available within one hour
- Ahmedabad Airport: Rs 4000 per person; reports available in one hour
If you travel to Abu Dhabi before entering USA
Starting September 5, 2021, quarantine is eliminated in Abu Dhabi for fully-vaccinated travelers from India and other countries. But there is a catch. You will be considered fully vaccinated only if you have taken two doses of the same vaccine (from the above list of WHO-approved vaccines), at least, 14 days before your scheduled flight to Abu Dhabi. Fully-vaccinated travelers from non-green countries, including India, will undergo a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival, day four and day eight.
As per the latest updates, Abu Dhabi is also open to unvaccinated travelers from India. If you are unvaccinated or vaccinated with a vaccine that WHO does not approve, you will undergo 10-day quarantine in Abu Dhabi, a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival and day nine.
With green status in the Al Hosn App, you can travel quarantine-free and access public places in Abu Dhabi. To get green status in the app, you must register your vaccination status via the ICA Smart Travel Service or ICA app, at least, 5 days before your flight to Abu Dhabi. The UAE’s medical committee requires five working days on an average to review your vaccination status. On registration, you will receive a QR code via email. You will get a UID number on showing the QR code after you land at Abu Dhabi International Airport. You can also enter your passport number at the ICA Smart Travel Service portal to find the UID number. You need to register on the Al Hosn app, using the UID number. On successful registration, your status will be shown green on the app.
If you travel to Dubai before entering USA
Dubai accepts only Reverse Transcription‑Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT‑PCR) test certificates with QR codes from ICMR-approved labs in India. Entry will be denied to Dubai on the basis of antibody tests, home-testing kits, and NHS COVID tests. Taking an RT-PCR test before traveling to Dubai is not mandatory for children under the age of 12 and Indians with moderate or severe disability. It is highly recommended that you check with Emirates Airlines and confirm this test exemption. You must stay indoors in a hotel or some residence in Dubai until you receive the report of the test that you will take on arrival at Dubai International Airport. You need to download the COVID-19 DXB Smart app.
Know how to apply for UAE tourist visa
A single-entry tourist visa to the UAE, with 30-day validity from the date of issue, costs Rs 6000 per person. You can apply for a UAE tourist visa at VFS Global’s Dubai Visa Processing Centers in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The Kolkata and Mumbai visa application centers will resume services from September 6, 2021. In Pune and Ahmedabad, the visa application centers will resume operations from September 13. Click Here for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a UAE tourist visa.