Tourist visa for Dubai UAE
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Tourist Visa Abu Dhabi Dubai Sharjah UAE
Tourist Visas are usually available to all nationalities, except Israeli passport holders, and must be prearranged, often through a hotel but possibly also through an airline or other travel related company based in the UAE (new visa rules after July 2008). Some hotels, travel agents, airlines and other companies will only arrange a Tourist Visa for a customer, others will give you a choice of tourist or visit visa. Tourist visa is about 30%-50% cheaper than a visit visa.
If you find a job while on a tourist visa, you cannot do a status change to employment visa within the UAE (you can if on a visit visa), you must exit the UAE and re-enter on a new employment entry permit.
Citizens of one of the free visa on arrival countries can obtain a UAE Visit Visa (different from a Tourist Visa) on arrival at any border entry point to the UAE simply by presenting their passport at passport control. To obtain a tourist visa for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, our best understanding is you should do one of the following:
- If you are from one of the countries that can get a visit visa on arrival, do that.
- Otherwise contact the airline, hotel, or travel agent that you arranged your trip with and ask them if they can arrange a Tourist Visa (not all airlines can or will, and one could argue it's a bit of a racket but easily getting a tourist visa is one argument in favor of buying a ticket from a UAE based airline - Emirates, FlyDubai, Etihad, Air Arabia, RAK Airways). Fees will vary from one company to the next so check with more than one if you have a choice of options. Only travel agents and hotels based in the UAE can arrange a tourist visa.
- Check the website of one of the UAE airlines (Emirates, FlyDubai, Etihad, Air Arabia, RAK Airways) for a list of travel agent partners in your country - they are likely to be more reliable when it comes to arranging a UAE visa, if they are able to do that, even if you are not flying with one of the UAE airlines.
- If you have a close relative in the UAE, they may be able to sponsor you for a Visit Visa (not a Tourist Visa).
- Entering the UAE with a pre-arranged tourist visa does not guarantee entry but most people most of the time have no problems. Dubai is likely to be the most hassle-free emirate (but Sharjah the highest risk of hassle). To minimise hassles at passport control (where they might ask awkward questions), if you don't have a hotel booking, at least know the name of a hotel in the emirate you are staying in in case they ask you where you are staying (they are very unlikely to ask for evidence, and if they do, just say you were just going to go to the hotel or ask at the airport tourist information desk for other possibilities if it is full). Don't say you are staying with a friend, especially of the opposite gender, especially in Sharjah - technically it is illegal for unmarried unrelated adult men and women to share private accommodation but it's not usually a problem (at least not for British football players visiting Dubai with their girlfriends) but don't volunteer information about those arrangements to anyone in authority.
Information about the 14 day tourist visa is included on the transit visa page since it is more often referred to as a transit visa or service visa.
Etihad Airlines announced on 31 January 2012 a free UAE tourist visa promotion (although it appears to be a 96 hour transit visa they are talking about). See the Etihad page for more information.
Table below lists some official or government UAE sources of visa information and date of information. If no date given, assume it was last checked 04 May 2009 (but that doesn't mean it was still valid). Obviously there are some conflicts. Any other UAE visa information sources will usually be based on one of the sources below. Many sources rarely update old visa information so it still ends up appearing in search results even when it's out of date (and yes, we're guilty of that too sometimes).
01 Jan 2015 (table not yet updated - most official sources still have old information): The GDRFA increased tourist visa fees from AED 210 to AED 250, and removed the possibility of a 10 day extension (or grace period), and one month renewable option. Multiple entry tourist visa cost increased to AED 350. Fees increased for visit visas also. Prices for tourist visas from travel agents about AED 350-500. There appears to now be a 90 day tourist visa available, for AED 1,200-1,700 from airlines and travel agents.
|Source & date
|Length of stay
|DNRD fee table
|DNRD website 2008
|passport, insurance, Dh1000 deposit
|30 days (R)
|EY website E-Visa
|Dh5000 deposit or guarantee letter
|30 days (R)
|passport, insurance, AA ticket, Dh7500 deposit, sponsor¹
|dubaitourism.ae 05 Mar 2006
|hotel or tour operator sponsored
|30 days (NR)
|hotel or tour operator sponsored
|30 days (NR)
|government.ae 31 Mar 2003
|hotel or tour operator sponsored
|30 days (NR)
|scanned passport, photos
|females < 24 yrs
|30 days (NR)
- NR - Non-Renewable, R - Renewable once at DNRD office with renewal fees of AED 620 (AED 870 if renewed with Air Arabia, or AED 750 with Etihad Airways)
- Tourist Visa applications take 1-2 weeks for normal processing once all the correct forms have been submitted, and 2-3 days for urgent applications.
- Tourist Visa serial number is 12, entry code is 43 according to DNRD fees table
- Tourist Visa is renewable once for 30 days, fees are AED 620 for eform, and AED 610 for ednrd, serial number is 13, entry code is 43
- *Etihad Airways website says validity period is 2 months, but the same page also says 59 days (when checked 04 May 2009)
- Sources that offer or have information that say Tourist Visas are not renewable, are probably out of date since the UAE visa rules changed after July 2008 to allow almost all nationalities the possibility of obtaining a 30 day Tourist Visa that is renewable once.
- Not clear from Air Arabia website if AA sponsor Sharjah Tourist Visa, or assist with visitors obtaining a Sharjah Visit Visa (if the latter then visitor needs a relative in the UAE to sponsor them as per usual Visit Visa sponsorship requirements).
1. Documents needed if visa is sponsored by a UAE resident (this information might not apply to tourist visas or visit visas after July 2008)
- Visa application form
- Copy of sponsors passport with copy of residence visa
- Copy of sponsors labour contract in Arabic with monthly salary figure
- Copy of trade licence if sponsor is self-employed
- Copy of traveler's ticket
- Refundable deposit of AED 1000 for each person being sponsored
Passport validity period for tourists visiting Dubai and UAE
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months before your plan to depart from the UAE (not arrival date).
- If you obtain a tourist visa despite this requirement, it does not mean you are guaranteed entry to the UAE. You might be denied aircraft boarding when you check in for your flight to the UAE, or denied entry when you arrive in the UAE.
- Expat UAE residence visa holders are allowed to enter with at least 3 months passport validity according to information from the UK Government, and from the UAE Embassy in the UK (last checked Aug 2015).
Tourist visa cancellation and overstaying a tourist visa in the UAE
- Nothing needs to be actively done to cancel a tourist visa, you don't need to keep any bits of paper to show on exit, or present hotel receipts, etc. Just leave and all should be fine as long as you present your passport with the entry visa stamped in it.
- If you have overstayed the 30 day limit (it's not 31 days so watch out for months with 31 days), then you will probably get a fine when you depart. Allow AED 100 for overstaying in the first place, plus AED 200 for each day you overstayed (it might only be AED 100 but don't count on it). Entry day and exit day are counted as days in the UAE so someone landing one minute before midnight and departing one minute after midnight has been in the UAE two days longer than someone arriving after midnight and departing before midnight.
- There is (or was) apparently a grace period of 10 days after the expiry date of a tourist visa, but official confirmation of that is difficult to find. Anecdotal evidence indicates sometimes people get away with it, sometimes they don't. It might depend on your nationality, how big your smile is, how bad a mood the immigration official is in, or none of the above. In early 2012 there were rumours that the grace period had been abolished but nothing official found or reported to confirm that. Even asking the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs (immigration department) seems to get contradictory answers.
Change of status, converting Tourist Visa to Employment Entry Permit
For visitors seeking a job in the UAE while on a holiday or visit, the question of what to do about your tourist visa comes up if you find work.
- If you have a Tourist Visa, you must exit the UAE and re-enter on an Employment Visa or Entry Permit. You cannot do a status change in the UAE. Most people do a visa change flight to Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, or Kish Island. Kish Island is the least desirable destination for this since flights and seat bookings are less reliable than other destinations.
- If you have a Visit Visa, you can either change status to Employment Visa in the UAE (fee payment required), or exit and re-enter the UAE with your Employment Visa.
- An Employment Visa is not the same as a Work Permit or Labour Card. The Employment Visa is valid for 60 days before entry and allows you to stay in the UAE for 30 days while your Labour Card and Residence visa are processed (should be enough time in most cases as long as your employer is efficient about getting it done). Your new employer applies for the Employment Visa as part of the employment process.
- Many or most employers will ask you to leave the UAE and wait while they process your employment visa, they'll claim they need a copy of your exit stamp so they can start the process. This is not necessary, they can apply for an employment visa while you are in the UAE, although an extra fee and additional paperwork might be required. Contact the Ministry or Labour (MOL) or UAE immigration department yourself to confirm this (or tell us if it has changed) so you can feel more confident when explaining to your employer that you will wait in the UAE while they get your Employment Visa processed.
- If you leave the UAE without your employment visa, especially if you don't go to your home country (Kish Island is a common destination choice), then you are stuck there until your employer organises the new visa. It is an opportunity for the employer to delay things (they might be looking for other candidates), or change their mind and not process your visa. If you do go to Kish Island you will meet a number of people in exactly that situation, stuck there in limbo for weeks or months.
- Most importantly, if you are looking for a job, do not stop looking for a job until your Employment Visa has been issued. And even then, don't assume you are safe - you are still on probation for a few months. You are in a much better position to negotiate with your employer or say no thanks to a bad deal if you have other options.
Tourist visa ban for some nationalities
- 18 Oct 2012 - Emirates 24-7 reported that The head of the Dubai Immigration has clarified that there is no ban on issuing of Tourist visas. The report referred back to the September 2012 news, saying He [Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation and Residency, and Ports Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Interior] lashed out at some media outlets which published this untrue news that drawn from unofficial and unreliable sources. ... Media reports had wrongly quoted local tour operators as saying that Abu Dhabi's General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners’ Affairs had asked agents not to apply for such visas for those workers and expatriates who do not hold university degrees.
- 19 Sep 2012 - There was a report on 17 September 2012 that there was a ban on UAE visit visas for Bangladesh, Indian, Pakistani, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and possibly other nationalities employed in unskilled jobs. But subsequently denied on 19 September 2012 by the UAE Ministry of Interior. Some reports mentioned tourist visas rather than visit visas, so it's not clear exactly what sort of visa is affected.
Airlines providing tourist and transit visas to the UAE
Some airlines with flights to the UAE will provide tourist visas to passengers flying with them. Contact the airline at least a couple of weeks in advance to arrange a visa.
- Air Arabia
- Emirates Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Malaysian Airlines - apply with passport copy and 2 passport photos at ticket offices in Beirut, Lebanon office for UAE 96 hour Transit Visa (US$83) or UAE Tourist Visa (US$96). Apply in person, allow 2 working days for processing, collect from Malaysia Airlines office in Gefinor Building, Clemenceau St, Hamra, Beirut, Tel +961-1-741343 (28 July 2010 information, unknown how long offer is valid for).
- Turkish Airlines - apply in person at Turkish Airlines offices in Turkey with passport at least 5 days before travelling. Might apply to Turkish residents only (14 December press release).
Air Arabia tourist visa special offer summer 2009: Air Arabia are offering a flight + 30 day UAE tourist visa package for AED 975 (plus airport taxes) return to any Air Arabia destination. Depart from 15 June to 31 July 2009, return from 16 July to 10 September 2009.
UAE tourist visa agencies overseas
- The UAE is proposing that agents based overseas could process visitor entry permits for foreigners visiting the UAE, under the supervision of UAE embassies and consulates in foreign countries. This would make it easier for visitors to get visas processed - at present (as of March 2010), relevant documents need to be sent to the sponsor based in the UAE (hotel, airline, business etc), and the sponsor then needs to go to the relevant office in the UAE to get the visa processed.
- According to a Khaleej Times report 20 March 2010, the Higher Permanent Committee for Finance and Assets of the UAE Interior Ministry "has recommended the UAE visa procurement process be outsourced to specialised companies in countries from which tourists or visitors seek to come. The committee has proposed external offices run by firms specialising in visas be set up under the approval and supervision of UAE embassies, according to an Interior Ministry Security Media statement."
- No time frame given for when this new procedure would be implemented.
Old Tourist Visa Dubai - no longer valid, information here for reference only
- Citizens of countries eligible for a Tourist Visa (from dubaitourism.ae and uaeinteract.com): Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bermuda, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Cyprus, French Guiana, Guyana, Europe (East and West), Hellenic Republic (Greece), Kingston (Jamaica), Malta, Martinique (France), Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Palao (Palau?) other non-defined American nationalities. According to government.ae, nationalities are limited to China, East and West Europe, South Africa, Thailand.
- Tourist visas can be obtained through airlines, UAE hotels, travel agents and tour operators in the UAE. Visa fees are AED 100 + AED 10 delivery fee, and companies may not charge more than AED 50 dhs additional processing fees or surcharges.
- Cost is AED 120 + AED 100 if urgent processing wanted.
- Validity is 30 days (non-renewable) before new rules 01 August 2008, may be renewable after new rules come into effect.
- Takes a couple of days to process, sometimes just hours.
- http://www.dnrd.ae/en/Services/ServicesGuide/Pages/Visitors.aspx, still has old fees, still says renewable for 30 days, 10 Aug 2015.
- http://www.mofa.gov.ae/EN/ConsularServices/Pages/Visa-Information.aspx, old (very, from before Jul 2008?) fees information, still says tourist visa renewable, 10 Aug 2015.
- http://www.uaeinteract.com/travel/visas.asp, still has old fees, German and US visa information, conflicting renewable or non-renewable information, 10 Aug 2015.
- http://www.dubai.ae/en/Lists/Articles/DispForm.aspx?ID=134&category=Visitors, Dubai Government portal, tourist visa fees not given, tourist visa duration not updated, 10 Aug 2015.
Last update Wednesday 12-Aug-2015
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