Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 28 September 2020


Coronavirus: Residents returning to Dubai still need GDRFA permission

The emirate's immigration rules remain unaffected by a federal decision relating to permission to travel last week

An immigration official checks documents of passenger at Dubai Airport. WAM
An immigration official checks documents of passenger at Dubai Airport. WAM

Residents returning to Dubai must still apply for permission from the emirate's immigration service before they fly home, Emirates Airline has said.

The carrier said passengers must have proof they have been through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA)'s process before travelling.

Last week, federal rules on entering the UAE were relaxed, removing the need for people to apply for clearance to come back.

About 200,000 residents were stuck outside the country in March when the UAE closed its borders to stem the spread of the pandemic.

The UAE put two systems in place to arrange for their return: one for residents of Dubai, which has its own immigration service, and a federal one for those living in the rest of the UAE.

Residents of Dubai had to seek permission from the GDRFA, while people living elsewhere in the UAE had to apply to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).

The ICA has now waved the requirement, but Dubai-bound visa holders must continue to apply using the GDRFA web portal.

“Apply for return approval when you book your flight with us online or through our contact centre. You can also complete the application on the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) website before you book your flight with us,” Emirates said.

“During the GDRFA application process, you will be asked to enter your resident file number. This number is on your visa under 'file'. 

“Check the GDRFA website to see the status of your application. If your application is approved, you will receive an email with a GDRFA reference number.”

Residents then use the application number to book their flight.

Anyone arriving into Dubai must present a negative Covid-19 test certificate. They may be required to take another test on arrival.

Everyone who takes the test on arrival in Dubai must quarantine until the results come through and download the Covid-19 DXB app. But only those who test positive have to quarantine for 14 days.

The rules are different for residents returning to the rest of the UAE.

Residents of the six other emirates must also present a negative test result on arrival, but they need to take a second test once they land. Everyone must download the Al Hosn app and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the result.

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Updated: August 15, 2020 02:35 PM

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