The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the most exciting destinations in the Middle East. It is best known for the towering downtown areas of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, the UAE also boasts impressive canyon-riddled mountains, beaches, coral islands, and a plethora of desert adventures such as our Red Dune Safari, Quad, Sandboarding, and Camel Ride Experience. With all that in mind, you’re probably wondering ‘Do I Need a Visa to Visit the UAE’. Discover the relevant answers for you right here.
Who Needs a Visa to Visit the UAE
The laws of the UAE state that all visitors to the nation need a visa. That said, there are various circumstances which mean you can enter the country for tourist purposes without one.
Citizens of approximately 75 countries can undertake tours in the UAE without applying for a visa before traveling. Some are granted visa-free travel, while others receive a free visa on arrival, which amounts to the same thing. These include nationals from the majority of countries in North and South America and Europe. The exact time permitted to spend in the country differs significantly between passports. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date you intend to enter the UAE.
Almost all nationals of Africa and Asia will need to apply for a visa before travel from the nearest UAE embassy or mission. We have more information on that process below.
Nationals with Visa-free Travel to the UAE
Mexican passport holders can spend up to 180 days visiting the UAE without needing a visa. Similarly, nationals from many countries can spend up to 90 days within a 180-day period in the country.
These are European Union nations (except the Republic of Ireland), Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Israel, Honduras, Iceland, Kiribati, Lichtenstein, Maldives, Montenegro, Nauru, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, South Korea, Serbia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, and Uruguay.
The following citizens are granted visa-free or complimentary visas on arrival for up to 30 days: Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Canada, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, New Zealand, Singapore, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and the Vatican City/Holy See.
Indian citizens are granted 14 days visa-free entry to the UAE if they hold a valid visa or residency permit for the United States, European Union, or the UK. Then you too can take in the sights on our Abu Dhabi, Louvre, and Grand Mosque Tour.
Gulf Cooperation Council Nations
In addition, if you travel on a passport from a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council you can travel freely into the UAE without a visa. In fact, you don’t even need a passport. Instead, it’s possible to travel on your government-issued identity card.
The Gulf Cooperation Council members are the UAE’s neighboring states. From north to south these are Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman.
Do I Need a Visa for Transiting Through the UAE
Those using the UAE’s hub airports to connect to onward flights do not require visas if remaining within the airport. It doesn’t matter which airline you fly with, so long as your ticket has been purchased in advance.
Those with connection times of between eight and 48 hours can obtain a transit visa. This allows them to leave the airport for this period before returning to complete their journey. This form of visa is usually free. But you must have proof of onward travel and a booking for one of the many excellent hotels in the UAE. Check out our guide to where to stay in Dubai for some brilliant choices.
Applying for a Visa to Visit the UAE
If you are not entitled to visa-free travel or a visa on arrival you must apply for a visa before traveling. Exact requirements differ between nationalities and even gender. You generally need to be 21 to apply if you are male, and 23 if you are female.
Often visas will require a sponsor. If you are visiting the UAE on vacation, your airline may be able to act as your sponsor. They can be arranged as part of the ticket buying process when flying with Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, Air Astana, flydubai, Turkish Airlines, and Indigo Airlines.
Thirty-day single entry tourist visas cost around US$90. The average processing time is 3-4 working days.
Do You Need a Visa to Visit the UAE?
The good news is that many visitors to the UAE do not require a visa or can obtain a free visa on arrival. Those that do require a visa can also complete the process without too much complication, often through your airline. Then you’ll be free to plan your vacation, in which case our Insider Dubai City Tour is a great starting point.