UAE flights from restricted countries: 7 new exemptions explained

KT file
KT file

Dubai - All we know so far: Covid vaccination requirements, travel procedures and protocols

By Sahim Salim

Published: Wed 4 Aug 2021, 12:13 PM

Last updated: Wed 4 Aug 2021, 12:19 PM

Authorities in the UAE made an announcement on Tuesday that brought relief and joy to expats stranded in six countries from where passenger entry was suspended.

Seven new categories of stranded residents can travel back to the UAE from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda, as on August 5.

Here is all we know so far.

Are only vaccinated residents allowed to travel back to the UAE?

No. Residents fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are just one of the seven new categories added to the exempted list.

According to the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), stranded expats with valid residency visas must have received two doses of vaccine in the UAE. At least 14 days must have passed since receiving the second dose, and they must hold a certificate to this effect.


>> Flights to UAE: Emirates lists 11 countries from where passengers can travel

>> UAE travel: Etihad 'working to resume' India, Pakistan flights

Are residents vaccinated in their home countries allowed to travel back?

It is not immediately clear whether this is the case. The NCEMA statement clearly mentions that the vaccine doses must have been taken in the UAE.

However, the dedicated web page of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) – from where stranded residents must get an approval to fly back – lists seven vaccines. This list comes under the ‘vaccine information’ tab.


>> UAE flights from restricted countries: Which Covid vaccines are approved?

Are unvaccinated residents allowed to travel back?

Residents working in key sectors are among the unvaccinated expats allowed to return. The following categories are allowed to return, irrespective of their vaccination status:

>> Medical personnel working in the UAE: Doctors, nurses and technicians

>> Teachers at universities, colleges, schools and institutes

>> Students in UAE

>> Employees of federal and local government authorities

>> Humanitarian cases, provided they have valid residency

>> Those undergoing treatment in the UAE

What is the procedure for stranded residents to return?

According to the NCEMA, exempted residents must get an approval from the ICA. This approval can be obtained from the ICA website.

They must hold a negative result from a PCR test taken no later than 48 hours from the time of departure. The test must be taken at an accredited lab and the results must have a QR code.


>> ICA approval for UAE flights: How residents can apply

>> UAE flights: GDRFA approval must for exempted residents returning to Dubai from restricted countries

In addition, a Covid test will be conducted before they board the flight.

UAE-based airlines Emirates and Etihad have said that they will announce travel protocols as and when they are available.

What about transit travel?

Transit travel, too, will resume from all countries from where “transit passengers were previously banned”, according to the NCEMA.

Transit passengers must have taken a PCR test no later than 72 hours from the time of departure. The UAE’s airports will allocate special lounges for them.

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