The suspension of entry visas comes into effect on March 17…

UPDATE: Coronavirus update: UAE visa on arrival temporarily suspended from March 19

In its latest efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the UAE government announced a temporary halt on all entry visas, starting Tuesday, March 17. This was later clarified by Dubai Airports, with the announcement that some passport holders would be exempt from the ban.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced on Saturday March 14 that it would “temporarily suspend” the issuance of all visas, except for diplomatic passport holders.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Federal Authority for Identity And Citizenship (ICA) said: “The move comes as part of the precautionary measures taken by the UAE in response to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic, a development which reflects the high risks now associated with travel under the current circumstances.”

The suspension will stay in effect until a mechanism for medical screening for all arrival passengers is put in place.

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So what does this mean for you?

If you hold a resident visa in the UAE, then it’s business as usual for you – although it’s important to note that the government warns against all non-essential travel at this time.

Similarly, the decision doesn’t effect people who’ve had their visas issued prior to March 17, so if you’re visiting the UAE on a tourist visa that’s about to expire, you may wish to explore options for an online extension.

It’s now possible to renew or extend your tourist visa in the UAE without leaving the country, which is particularly important given visas are not being processed at the Oman border for the time being.

Following directives from the government on Saturday, major tourist and cultural attractions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been closed until the end of March, along with nightclubs and events for more than 500 people.

The changes to the UAE tourist visa policy come at a time when countries around the world are closing their borders and going into lockdown. To stay informed with the latest on Covid-19 in the UAE, visit DOH’s dedicated website.