How to Enter United Arab Emirates

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

U.S. citizens are subject to all UAE immigration laws, which can be complex and demanding. U.S. citizens should familiarize themselves with such laws before traveling to or residing in the UAE. A passport valid for at least six months is required to enter the UAE. For personal travel of 30 days or fewer, U.S. citizens holding valid tourist passports may obtain visitor visas at the port of entry for no fee. For stays longer than 30 days, all travelers must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. In addition, a full medical exam is required for work or residence permits and includes an HIV/AIDS test. Testing must be performed after arrival; a U.S. HIV/AIDS test is not accepted. U.S. citizens have been detained and deported for testing positive for HIV or hepatitis. Please verify this information with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates before you travel. It is located at 3522 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20037, telephone (202) 243-2400. Visit the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates website for the most current visa information.

U.S. citizens traveling to or through the United Arab Emirates on diplomatic or official passports are required to obtain a visa before travel. Unlike other countries in the region that accept U.S. military ID cards as valid travel documents, the UAE requires U.S. military personnel to present a valid passport for entry/exit.

U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries that are not members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who depart the UAE via land are required to pay a departure fee. This fee is 20 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local currency.

Customs restrictions: The U.S. Embassy strongly advises travelers, including all U.S. government personnel and those transiting UAE airports, to avoid the transport of any arms or items that may be considered law enforcement or military equipment without prior written approval from the UAE Ministry of Defense. Such items include, but are not limited to, weapons, weapon parts and tools, ammunition, body armor, handcuffs, and any other military or police equipment. Transport of these items into or through the UAE is considered a violation of UAE law. Persons found to be carrying such items, even in the smallest quantities, will be arrested and face strict criminal penalties, including imprisonment, large monetary fines, forfeiture of the items, and deportation. U.S. citizens transporting such weapons and equipment without the express written authorization of the UAE government have been arrested and jailed, even though airlines and U.S. authorities allowed shipment on a U.S.-originating flight.

The United Arab Emirates takes the transport of any and all types of law enforcement equipment or military gear seriously and has demonstrated its ability to enforce its laws in this respect. The U.S. government can neither protect, nor intervene on behalf of, individuals who are accused of violating foreign government laws whether intentionally or by negligence. It is the responsibility of individuals travelling abroad to be informed of all pertinent information, particularly in relation to legal issues, regarding the countries through which they travel or transit.

Please review the Criminal Penalties section of this document for more information on customs restrictions, particularly in regard to the UAE’s strict anti-drug laws.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates requires that all persons residing in the UAE, including U.S. citizens, have a national identification card. U.S. citizens who are working or living in the UAE should visit the Emirates Identity Authority website for more information on card registration procedures and requirements.

Special Travel Circumstances in United Arab Emirates

The Government of the United Arab Emirates does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities have confiscated U.S. passports of UAE/U.S. dual nationals in the past. This act does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

In addition to being subject to all UAE laws, U.S. citizens who also hold UAE citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of the UAE. For additional information, please refer to our information on dual nationality.

Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country's Islamic traditions and are much more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced. Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are much stricter than in the United States. Penalties for public displays of affection or immodesty can be severe. Travelers have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for kissing in public. Sexual relations outside marriage and adultery are illegal in the UAE and convicted individuals have been punished by lengthy jail sentences.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in the UAE. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment. Although the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General are not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers.

Travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions, including clothing choices, may invite unwanted attention. Isolated incidents of verbal and physical harassment of Western women have occurred. Victims of harassment are encouraged to report such incidents to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Employment in the UAE: Although it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Many contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims.

U.S. citizens have at times become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that have prompted local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen's passport, effectively preventing the individual from leaving the UAE until the dispute is resolved. In addition, local firms have been known to leverage the UAE criminal justice system in an attempt to coerce and/or strengthen their negotiation stance during commercial disputes by filing criminal complaints, which may lead not only to travel restrictions but possible criminal penalties, including jail time. A list of local attorneys capable of representing U.S. citizens in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Document Authentications: U.S. citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE are generally required by the UAE government to present authenticated personal documents such as marriage and birth certificates, adoption and custody decrees, and educational documents. Authentication of documents can be a complex process involving local, state, and federal offices and requiring several weeks to complete. For procedural information, the Office of Authentications may be contacted by telephone from within the United States at 800-688-9889 or 202-647-5002, by fax at 202-663-3636. The websites of the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai also contain information about the authentication process.

In order to meet UAE government requirements for school registrations and residency sponsorship for family members, U.S. citizens intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE will need to have their marriage certificate and children's birth certificates, or custody/adoption decrees, if applicable, authenticated by the state in which the document was issued, by the Department of State in Washington, DC, and by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General cannot authenticate U.S. local- and state-issued personal, academic, or professional documents, even if those documents have already been authenticated by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Authentications. Additional information on authentication of documents can be found on the State Department’s website and on the Embassy or Consulate General websites.

A recent change to UAE labor law requires local sponsors to have employees' diplomas, academic and/or occupational/professional certificates validated through a "Degree Verification" process established in the UAE. Prospective employees will be required to submit photocopies of such documents for verification to a firm under contract to the Ministry of Labor.

In addition, persons in the education and health professions reportedly have to meet two requirements for validation of their educational credentials at this time –the formal "chain" authentication of academic/professional credentials in the U.S. and the "Degree Verification" process in the UAE, both described above. Different UAE ministries have different requirements in this regard. Determining these requirements with one’s prospective employer is strongly recommended before arrival in the UAE.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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