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Transit visa for Dubai UAE

Monday 18 February 2019 (UAE)   

Transit visa Abu Dhabi Dubai Sharjah Ras Al Khaimah airports UAE

Airline transit passengers travelling with a stopover at Dubai Airport (or other UAE airport) who do not leave the terminal building, do not need a UAE visa since they are not entering the UAE. Citizens of UAE free arrival visa countries do not need to pre-arrange any visa whether they are in transit or travelling to Dubai as a destination.

Obtaining a transit visa on arrival in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or elsewhere in the UAE is possible but it seems to be a bit of a lottery whether or not you can get one, even if you seem to tick all the boxes that are prerequisites for being eligible for a transit visa on arrival. And even to the extent that what works for one person doesn't work for another person even though they fulfill all of the same conditions. It's much better if you try to pre-arrange one.

Etihad Airlines announced on 31 January 2012 a free UAE tourist or visit visa promotion (although it appears to be a 96 hour transit visa they are referring to).

Any other passenger who does want to exit the airport will need a UAE entry permit. By exit, we mean anyone who wants to go through passport control. A 96 hour transit visa is available to visitors to the UAE. Visa information is notoriously unreliable and inaccurate at the best of times, even from official sources, and seems especially so for transit visas. Remember also that different emirates in the UAE might have different ways of implementing immigration rules. Our best information is that you can obtain a 96 hour transit visa in one of the following ways:

  • Pre-apply through the airline, travel agent, or UAE hotel that you are booked with. None of them are likely to arrange a transit visa for you unless you are a customer.
  • Obtain one on arrival in Dubai at the Marhaba services counter in Terminal 1, or the Emirates Hotels and Visas for Dubai desk in Terminal 3. This is not guaranteed, as the granting of the visa is subject to Dubai immigration department approval. You will need to buy at least one night in a Dubai hotel from Marhaba or Emirates to be issued a transit visa, and probably be flying in or out on Emirates Airline.

In all cases, assume you need your original passport, 2 photos (probably only 1), an airline ticket to a destination different to where you came from, a minimum of 8 hours between arrival and departure flights in the UAE, and evidence of accommodation in the UAE. Saying that you are "staying with a friend" might be accepted ... or it might not. You are probably better off giving a hotel name where you plan to stay ... and if plans change between leaving the airport and arriving at the hotel, well, these things happen.

96 hour transit stopover visa on arrival at Dubai Airport

This is what the IATA Travel Information Manual (TIM) says (April 2011 edition) (the best version of an "official source" that we can find). Note that it only applies to Dubai Airport, not other cities or emirates. All conditions must be satisfied ... in theory. If you end up in Dubai and don't satisfy all conditions, it might be worth trying anyway, but assume you'll fail and you won't be disappointed.

  • A 96-hour (“Dubai Stop-over”) transit visa can be obtained on arrival at DXB provided:
    • Traveling to a third country through Dubai International Airport;
    • Transit time is at least 8 hours;
    • Holding return/onward ticket and a hotel reservation;
    • Traveling at least one sector (inbound or outbound) on Emirates (EK). Fee: USD 127.
    • Facility is not applicable to passengers arriving on SQ-flights.
    • No visa will be issued on arrival to female passengers under 30 years of age, being nationals of CIS countries.
    • Not applicable to nationals of Afghanistan, Iraq, Niger, Somalia and Yemen.
Transit visa information table

Table below lists information from various other official (or sort-of official) sources (assume any other source has obtained their information from one of the below organisations) with date of information if available. If no date supplied, assume it was last checked on 04 May 2009 (but actual information date is unknown).

Do not rely on any of the information in this table - there are obvious conflicts even between government sources.

Source & date Requirements Restrictions Validity Length of stay Apply at Fees
DNRD website 2008 passport, form, onward ticket¹, hotel min 8 hrs between flights   96 hours entry point AED165
DNRD fee table     30 days 96 hours   AED165
Marhaba website passport, onward ticket min 8 hours stay   96 hours Marhaba  
EK website onward flight, hotel, passport     96 hours Emirates  
Gulf News 29 Jul 2008 airline sponsor, onward ticket arrange at booking   96 hours airline AED100
EK website (old info?) passport, photo, sponsor details² Blood relative, EK, DXB 59 days 96 hours EK visa office AED190
EK Rugby 7s 2008 offer       96 hours   US$25
AA website 03 Jan 2006       96 hours Air Arabia  
DNRD website (old?) passport, visa, onward ticket     96 hours   none
dubaitourism.ae 05 Mar 2006 onward ticket, airline sponsored min 8 hrs in Dubai   96 hours    
government.ae 13 Mar 2003 onward ticket, airline sponsor     96 hours   free
uaeinteract 10 Sep 2002 onward ticket, Dubai tour min 5 hrs in Dubai   96 hours City Tours Desk free³
Special Mission Entry Visa / Entry Service Permit / 14 day Visit Visa / 14 day Transit Visa / Service Visa (not available?)
EY (old info, 2006?) passport, photo, Dh3000 deposit EY flight, AUH   14 days Etihad office AED150
EY website   EY flight, AUH 60 days 14 days EY office AED380
government.ae 13 Mar 2003 UAE commercial / hotel sponsor   14 days 14 days sponsor AED130
uaeinteract.com (old?) UAE commercial sponsor limited professions 14 days 14 days sponsor AED220
southtravels.com online scanned passport, photos females under 24 yrs   1-14 days South Travels US$180
  • Passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months from date of entry to the UAE
  • Urgent applications can be processed in some cases for an extra AED 100 (US$30) approximately
  • Transit Visa applications take 1-2 weeks for normal processing once all the correct forms have been submitted, and 2-3 days for urgent applications.
  • Marhaba Services offer a City Stop Service at Dubai Airport on arrival where a 96 hour Transit Visa is supplied (subject to immigration department approval) if you buy a hotel package (prices start from US$164 per passenger per night). Look for the Marhaba Services Counter in the arrival hall of Terminal 1 (open 24 hours) or tel +971-4-2164628 / +971-4-2162709 / +971-4-2162975.
  • Emirates Airlines offer a Dubai Stopovers on Arrival package which includes a 96 hour Transit Visa (from US$58 per person per night + visa fees) if you fly with Emirates Airlines. Available from the Emirates Hotels & Visas for Dubai desk in the arrivals hall of Terminal 3. Visa issue is subject to immigration department approval.
  • South Travels (a Dubai or Sharjah based travel agent) offer an online Transit Visa application service for US$180. Since the service says validity of visa is 1-14 days, it may be old information because it's not clear that a 14 day Transit Visa is available any longer. As with all online transactions, you should verify independently that the service is not any sort of scam. Our mention of southtravels.com is not a recommendation, they are mentioned here because they frequently appear when searching for Dubai visa information. Females under 24 years of age not travelling with a family member, need to send further details to South Travels "for evaluation". Update 04 December 2010: We definitely do NOT recommend South Travels for visa applications, at least not until a copyright issue has been resolved.
  • Citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Niger, Somalia, or Yemen might not be eligible for a 96 hour transit visa (or maybe just on arrival) - pre-apply with an airline, Marhaba Services, or a UAE hotel.
  1. Onward flight or booking means flying to a destination different to your origin before landing in Dubai e.g. London-Dubai-Singapore. Transit visas are not issued to passengers with a return flight from Dubai (e.g. London-Dubai-London).
  2. Documents needed if visa is sponsored by a UAE resident (might not be valid 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
  3. A DNATA, DNRD and DTCM initiative in conjunction with Net Tours, announced 10 September 2002, offered a free 96 hour transit visa on arrival to visitors to Dubai who purchased a tour package (AED 95-115 for adults) at the City Tours Desk in the Arrivals Hall. This may not be up-to-date information any more.
Special Mission Entry Visa

Companies can apply on your behalf for a 16 day transit visa, otherwise known as a Special Mission Entry Visa, or Service Visa, which is different from the UAE Mission Visa valid for a longer stay and usually issued to short term temporary workers or employees on probation. The visa is valid for 14 days for a single entry to the UAE prior to arrival, and after entry, the visa holder can stay for a maximum of 16 days (or 14 days according to some sources but the DNRD website says 16 days - last checked May 2009). Presumably the 16 days includes entry and exit days.

  • Cost of visa is AED 310-320.
  • Deposit (refundable) of AED 1000 required.
  • Health insurance required.
  • The Service Visa is not renewable.
  • Restricted to businessmen and high level professionals (doctor, teacher, engineer, etc).
  • A UAE based company needs to apply for the Service Visa.
Old Dubai transit visa information - no longer valid, left here for reference.
  • Validity is 96 hours for passengers in transit. There may be a minimum stopover time of 5 hours.
  • Need to show an ongoing ticket and visa cost is 30 dhs or free (conflicting sources and not clear on DNRD website). The airline you are flying with should be able to arrange it for you (and are required to sponsor you).
  • It may be possible to go to the City Tours Desk in the Arrivals Lounge to book a tour (100-150 dhs). Registering for a tour does not guarantee that a visa will be issued though.
Last update Tuesday 25-Jun-2013
Related pages
  • Dubai Airport transit hotel - one option for which you don't need a UAE visa. But you can't exit the airport.
  • Dubai visa - general information about various UAE entry permits
  • Dubai visa list - table of old and new visas for Dubai and the UAE
  • UAE Visa forum - tell others your experiences, answer questions, ask questions, correct the information on this page
Related websites (new window)


Abu Dhabi AUH ABD ADB, Ajman AJM, Al Ain AAN, Dubai DXB, Fujairah FUJ, Ras Al Khaimah RAK, Sharjah SHJ, Umm Al Quwain UAQ

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