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

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The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) earlier required UAE residents looking to enter the Emirates to obtain prior approval.

ICA’s approval was necessary for all residents who had acquired their visas in Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain. Meanwhile, residents with Dubai-issued visas were required to obtain the necessary permits from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

New development: ICA approval needed for non-Dubai residents
In a recent statement sent out to the media, Dubai Airports stated that returning passengers holding residence visa issued in other Emirates need approval from the ICA to return to the country. Holders of residence visas issued in Dubai continue to require the approval of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) to return to the UAE.

What returnees need to prepare prior to flying
Depending on your UAE visa, you need to apply to either the GDRFA or ICA for approval to return. The following entry rules apply to UAE residents travelling from these countries:

Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives Islands, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Republic of North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States (New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Seattle)

UAE residents have the option to present a negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test before departure or take the COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

The certificate must be for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Other test certificates including antibody tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai.
If you are taking a test before you depart, you must bring an official, printed certificate in English or Arabic to check in – SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.
If you are transiting in Dubai from the countries listed above, you do not need to present a COVID‑19 PCR test certificate unless it is mandated by your final destination.

The following entry rules apply to UAE residents travelling from these countries:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United States (California, Florida, Texas), Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Residents must take two COVID‑19 PCR tests: one before departure with a validity of 96 hours from the date of the test, and a second test upon arrival in Dubai.

The certificate must be for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Other test certificates including antibody tests and home testing kits are not accepted in Dubai.

You must bring an official, printed certificate in English or Arabic to check in – SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.

If you are transiting in Dubai from the countries listed directly above, you must have a negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate that is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test, as well as any requirements for your final destination.

Test exemptions:

Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability are exempt from this test.

UAE nationals are exempt from doing the COVID‑19 PCR test prior to departing from the origin station to Dubai. They will be tested on arrival in Dubai.

COVID‑19 testing laboratories:

The UAE government has specified designated laboratories. You can either use the recommended laboratories in the list or any trusted and certified laboratories in your country of origin to get your COVID‑19 PCR test.

If you are flying from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, you must get your certificate from one of the labs listed in the designated laboratories document to be accepted on the flight.

At check‑in
All travellers to Dubai, including passengers with a connecting flight, must complete this health declaration form and give it to the staff at check‑in. You can download it now and bring it to the airport with you, or you can complete it at check‑in.

When you arrive
You may need to take another COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival. If you take a test at the airport, you must remain in your residence until you receive the test result.

If the test result is positive, you will be required to undergo isolation and follow the Dubai Health Authority guidelines.

You must also download the COVID19 – DXB Smart App for either iOS or Android

UAE resumes entry permits and work permits extending to vital sectors

The ICA has announced that effective from 24 September 2020, the UAE will begin resuming the issuance of entry permits for foreign nationals wishing to gain entry into the country. As such, Dubai will no longer be the only Emirate issuing tourist visas following the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has stated that the visa issuance resumption is in accordance with the UAE’s framework of easing restrictions to support the country’s economic recovery.

On 5 October after some delay, the issuance of work permits has finally being resumed by the authorities The resumption of entry permits issuance extends to employees working for the country’s government and semi-government organisations and other vital sectors.

 

ICA Smart Services
The ICA has launched its Smart Servies program to further facilitate citizens and residents looking to return to the UAE. Among others, the ICA Smart Services provide UAE and foreign nationals a centralized portal from which they may access various services pertaining to visa inquiries, permit inquiries, payment of fees and fines and personal information updates. ICA Smart Services also allows GCC nationals and residents to renew or cancel certain services as well as applying for new visa permit.

 

Drive through COVID-19 test centers
The UAE government has set up numerous drive-through COVID-19 test centers to safeguard public health. You’ll find these test centers available across all emirates in the UAE. The emirate of Abu Dhabi specifically requires international and domestic travellers to obtain and present a negative COVID-19 PCR test or negative laser blood test not older than 48 hours before being granted entry. If you’re planning to domestically travel to Abu Dhabi, either by road or air, you may find our comprehensive COVID-19 test center locations in the UAE to be particularly useful.

 

A step-by-step guide for all returnees
To sum things up, please take a look at our following step-by-step guide for your return to the UAE.

Step 1: Ensure that your documents are valid. You may do so by registering yourself to the ICA Smart Services here.

Step 2: Learn about the rules and requirements of both your airline and airport. Also, please check for any pre-travel approvals set by your country of departure.

Step 3: Conduct an RT-PCR test at designated laboratories. Be sure to bring the test certificate with you.

Step 4: Book your ticket.

Step 4: Ensure that you have the Al Hosn app installed. Dubai residents are also required to install the DXB Smart App.

Step 5: On your departure date, make sure you arrive at the airport early and have your PPE ready.

 

 

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