ABU DHABI // Canadians will not get a grace period when new visa regulations take effect on January 2, the acting assistant undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs said yesterday.
Maj Gen Nasser al Minhali said that anyone arriving without a visa would not be granted admission.
"Implementation will take effect as of day one. Canadians will be treated as any other nationals who require visas," he said.
Canada was one of the 33 countries whose citizens could get a free visa upon arrival, but relations have soured since a diplomatic dispute erupted earlier this year over airline landing rights in Canada. Following the row, Canada's military base in Dubai was closed.
However, UAE airlines said that the visa laws would not affect business.
Etihad Airways and Emirates airline, which each operate three flights a week to Canada, have said their flights are working to capacity and they did not foresee changes after Sunday.
A spokesperson for Emirates said: "There is no evidence that Canadian travellers are deterred from coming to the UAE because of visa requirements. Capacity to and from Canada is severely constrained due to the limited number of flights."
Both airlines are offering cheaper visa alternatives for travellers booking online.
The process is cheaper and quicker than going through the UAE's embassy in Ottawa, the Canadian capital.
Passengers are advised to apply to the embassy 15 days in advance, but the process through Etihad takes between five and seven days.
A 30-day visa costs US$250 (Dh918) through the UAE Embassy in Ottawa but can be bought for $74.50 through Emirates, and $83 via Etihad.
Canadians can travel easily around the region to countries such as Qatar, where they receive visas on arrival. A multiple entry visa for up to 180 days costs $180.95. For Jordan, a six-month multiple entry visa costs just $42.
Paulo Da Silva, a Canadian banker, worked in the UAE for three years until May, and still has many friends in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"If I had to pay $250 for a visa, I would not go. I can't believe it costs so much," he said. "I love the UAE and would love to come back, but that is a lot of money."
Lori Spadorcia, 39, arrived in Dubai from Toronto on Tuesday morning. The Ottawa-based Canadian is here to visit a friend for 10 days, and booked her ticket before the new visa regulations were announced.
"I was lucky, I didn't know that if I had booked my ticket just a few days later, I would have needed a visa," she said.
"I think it's unfortunate this decision was made, because as far as I know, there are many Canadians living here that will be affected."