Foreign travel advice

United Arab Emirates

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

If you’re a British Citizen you can get a visitor’s visa on arrival in the UAE. In the past, this visa has allowed the visitor to stay in the UAE for up to 30 days. The visa has terminated automatically on departure and a new visa issued on arrival each time the same visitor returns to the UAE.

That approach continues to be applied in most cases, but in some cases British citizens (and visitors of some other nationalities) who have left the UAE and returned again within the 30 day period of stay granted at the time of the first arrival, haven’t received a new visa. Instead their stay has been limited to the initial 30 day period.

The British Embassy has sought, but not yet received, the UAE authorities’ clarification of the status and application of this different approach.

If you have any questions on the validity or expiry of your visa, contact UAE Immigration directly in Dubai on 04-3980000 or in Abu Dhabi on 02-4024500 , or contact the nearest UAE Embassy for advice.

If you hold any other type of British nationality (eg, British Overseas Citizen or British National Overseas) you’ll need to get a visa from the nearest UAE Embassy before you arrive in the UAE.

Living and working in the UAE

If you have entered Dubai on a visit visa and you wish to work then you should get a probationary work permit, valid for up to 3 months, from the Ministry of Labour. If you don’t get this permit and are caught working while on a visit visa, then you risk being jailed or fined and deported.

For further information, including on how to stay in the UAE for longer than 60 days, visit the websites of the UAE Consulate in London, the  Naturalisation and Residency Department – Dubai or the UAE Federal E-Government Portal.

If you apply for a residence visa, you will have to take a blood test. Those testing positive for HIV or hepatitis are detained and then deported. There is no appeal process.  

UAE employers may ask foreign employees to deposit their passports with the company as part of the terms and conditions of employment. While this is not an unusual practice, it is illegal under UAE labour law.

You should cancel your work visa before leaving the country permanently. If you don’t do this, you risk being reported as an absconder and could be arrested if you return to the UAE, even if you are in transit to another country. Failure to repay debts or resolve any outstanding cases against you may also result in your arrest on return or transit through the UAE.

If you have any doubt about your status before returning to the country seek advice from a local lawyer.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the UAE. If you hold a residence permit, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months in order to travel into the country.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are not valid for entry into the United Arab Emirates. However, ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from the United Arab Emirates.

Medication

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances in the UAE and can’t be brought into the country without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. If  you arrive in the UAE without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the UAE and you may be prosecuted under UAE law.

For further information and specific queries, contact the UAE Embassy in London to check whether your medication is on the controlled list.

You can find a list of registered and controlled medicines and details on import regulations on the UAE interact website.

Previous travel to Israel

UAE immigration authorities have advised that British nationals with valid or expired Israeli visas or stamps in their passports should not face any difficulties entering the UAE as long as they don’t intend to work. If you do intend to work then further checks may be required and there is a risk that entry may be refused. British-Israeli dual nationals may be refused entry to the UAE. If you have any concerns or further queries, contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London.

Exit requirements

Visitors must have legal status in the UAE when they depart. If you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country.