Dubai Visas, Permits and Immigration

by Jose Marc Castro on August 11, 2009

costoflivingDUBAI200The visit visa allows foreigners to stay in UAE for thirty days. However, you will be allowed to stay for another thirty days if you apply for an extension and pay 500 Dubai dollars. Your passport will be marked with a visit visa as soon as you enter through the Immigration Section in any airport in the United Arab Emirates.

There are specific rules on visa entry into the United Arab Emirates, with specific countries allowed entry and stay for thirty days without need of a visit visa. All visitors should have a valid return travel ticket and a passport valid for a minimum period of three months for tourists and six months for employment.

Resident visas and work permits are issued by the concerned authorities in the UAE and the application is made through a prospective employer. Other nationals arrange their visa through a sponsor in the UAE.

Visit Visa

A citizen of the United Kingdom will be given a free of charge visit visa in the United Arab Emirates.  British overseas citizens who do not live in the United Kingdom do not need visas to enter Dubai.

The multiple-entry visa in Dubai United Arab Emirates is valid only for 6 months starting from the date it was issued. You are allowed to stay for thirty days per visit and the visa is non-renewable. You may avail of this visa if you intend to have business relationships with any multinational or other honest local establishments in the country. However, one initially needs a visit or tourist visa to enter the United Arab Emirates and eventually get the multiple-entry visa. To obtain this type of visa, you should submit two(2) photographs, a photocopy of the completed application form, a fax letter or  a letter from the sponsor in Dubai to the embassy concerned  , a valid passport, and a letter from your company .

Foreign nationals can get a Dubai United Arab Emirates visa upon their arrival at the Dubai airport of entry by the AGCC residents. Visitors who are representatives or company managers, accountants, auditors, engineers, businessmen or businesswomen and employees working in public sectors are also qualified for this type of visa. Servants and labor categories are not qualified for this type of visa.

The Transit Visa is good for four days or 96 hours. It is issued thru the sponsorship of airlines operating in Dubai. The transit visa may be issued to anyone who has a valid ticket for an onward flight to Dubai free of charge.

Foreign nationals who want to live in Dubai are required to get a residence visa, which is also called employment visa. If you bought a property in Dubai, you are entitled for a residence visa provided that such was stipulated in the purchase agreement and that you actually own the property. The residence visa is valid for three years and for as long as you get medical tests and a health card is issued to you. The health card costs around 300 Dubai dollars and has to be renewed annually. Applicants who fail the aids test shall not be issued a residence visa.

There are other documents issued by UAE to allow entry into the country, such as:

Entry Service Permit

An Entry Service Permit applies to the following categories and their families accompanying them: company manager’s representatives, sales managers, account auditors, delegations from companies or establishments to carry out a commercial activity in the UAE, consultants requested by companies operating in the UAE that are required to carry out an urgent task.

This visa is valid for use within 14 days from the date of issue. The duration of stay is 14 days from date of entry, exclusive of arrival and departure days. It is non-renewable.

In order to complete the application, the sponsor will require the visitor’s date of arrival and flight details, and a photocopy of the first few pages of the visitor’s passport which should be valid for at least three months. This type of entry permit will only be issued as urgent at a fee of AED 220.

The Entry Service Permit holder may enter and depart the UAE through any airport.

Multiple Entry Visas

Multiple-entry Visas are issued to business visitors who have a relationship with either a multinational or other reputable local company, and who are frequent visitors to the UAE. This type of visa is valid for six months from the date of issue and the duration of each stay is 30 days. The validity is non-renewable. The cost of this visa is AED 1,000.

The visitor must enter the UAE on a visit visa and obtain the multiple entry visa while in the country. The visa is stamped on the passport.

Driver’s License

If you have an International license or driving license from your country of origin, you can rent a car to drive even if you have no residence visa. However, you need to acquire as a foreigner a Dubai driver’s license from the Traffic Police Office for a private vehicle. This license has one-month validity. A privately registered car cannot be driven with an international license as the car is insured for a United Arab Emirates license holder only.  To obtain this license, the applicant should complete the following requirements:

  • Original and photocopy of your driving license
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Traffic police application form
  • NOC from your company or sponsor in Dubai

Driving in Dubai though is not easy, as shared by an expat in the Dubai Expat Forum last September 18, 2009:

I drive to Abu Dhabi almost every day and the only thing I can say is to expect the unexpected. Everyone drives as if they own the road so stay alert at all times. People will change lanes even when you are parallel to them, so you’re gonna be the one that brakes to save you life and your car. I actually prefer driving in Dubai as opposed to AUH! Drivers are still civil in Dubai compared to the behaviour that you witness on the AUH highway!

Yes, it is scary to get tailgated at 160 – 200km/hr but do not panic and take your time to get out of their way. Even when someone is bullying you out of the fast lane, check their position before you move aside cause they might just be about to undertake you.

I had to take a driving test here because my license is different to my passport and they wouldn’t swap it. Here are 2 things I got taught (Nr 2 is highly not recommended!!!)

If a slow moving car is blocking your way, it is ok to flash. This will alert them to your presence and let them know to give you way (Err, I’d hazard a guess that you can see me in your mirror but oh well, apparently, that’s the way to do it here) – I’m against this by the way!!

If you are on a roundabout in the left lane and your exit is coming up, indicate and move!!! (This floored me)

Dubai UAE Immigration Rules and Regulations

All passengers are required to have visas before their entry to Dubai. The only exemptions are nationals of the GCCS or Gulf Co-operation Council States. All the Dubai visas are valid for single entry status and cannot be extended. Anyone who leaves Dubai United Arab Emirates and intends to come back should apply for a new visa.

Immigration Law

Brigadier Obaid Moheir Bin Suroor, Deputy Director of Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department (DNRD), issued new implementing rules and regulations regarding the entry and residency of foreign nationals. This law aims to expand the coverage of entry permits and offers all nationalities a chance to visit Dubai.  It is focused on attracting more tourists to Dubai. The tourist visa to Dubai is valid only for sixty days. The DNRD is the sole authority that deals with issuing visas to foreigners visiting Dubai.

Entry service permit

The Dubai entry service permit is applicable to families, sales managers, and delegations from establishments or companies to conduct commercial activities in Dubai. The permit is valid for fourteen days from the date it was issued.  To get an entry permit, you must complete the requirements such as the flight details, date of arrival and a photocopy of the passport (with three-month validity).

Working Permits

The Minister of Labor, Dr. Ali Bin Abdullah Al’ka’abi, issued new guidelines for temporary work permits. Temporary work permits are now open to all work categories. This new law allows foreign workers to acquire work permits twice within three years. It is an improvement from the previous law that requires foreign temporary workers to acquire their work permits every six months.

The working permit in Dubai is not the same as a residency visa. The residency visa allows any qualified foreign national to live in Dubai. To work in Dubai, a foreigner must apply for a labor card or work permit. The company where you will be working with will be the one to arrange the labor card and the residency visas for you and your family.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Opoku Benson Ansah February 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Hello Sir/Madam, I am a Ghanaian and I applied for employment visa. The visa is in but I want confirm whether is genuine before I make any payment
Below are the details on the visa
Entry permit no.: 2657866/257/2017
First name: Opoku
Date of birth: 24-07-1989
Passport number: G1116305

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Petrina Smith February 4, 2017 at 5:26 pm

HELP! My grandson who is just under 5 is due into Dubai with his mother (both UK) but she has jut noticd that his passport has 4.5 months to go before his passport expires. Will he be allowed in? I have not seen him since he was born ! What advice can anyone give? Planning on going to Immigration at Dubai Airport tomorrow but…. not sure how helpful they will be.

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