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Dubai and Abu Dhabi requiring covonavirus test certificates for entry, transfer AND EXIT

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In what appears to be an extremely harsh measure, given the position of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as tourist destinations and transit hubs, the UAE has announced that no-one will be allowed to board a flight to Dubai or Abu Dhabi if they are not in possession of a coronavirus negative test result.

The rule also applies to transit passengers who are simply passing through Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Dubai requiring coronavirus test

The test must be taken no earlier than 96 hours before your arrival into the UAE.  It is important to remember that NHS coronavirus tests are unlikely to be accepted, since all you receive is a short text message or email which can be easily faked.  You would presumably need a full certificate issued by a private laboratory. Children under 12 are exempt.

More worryingly, it appears that you will also need a coronavirus certificate in order to LEAVE the UAE for the UK and the EU.  This means that you will need to break off from your holiday to visit a private clinic in the UAE in the 96 hours before you return home and pay for another test.  The clinic must be on an airline-approved list.

A local media report I saw said that the exit test was only meant for UAE residents. The airports, Etihad and Emirates are insisting on a certificate from all travellers, however.

The Emirates website has more information here and the Etihad version is here.  The restriction applies to all flights from 1st August.

Comments (90)

  • Billy says:

    What happens if your exit test comes back positive? Will you be detained in the UAE indefinitely and refused on the plane back to the U.K. till you do another test that comes back negative?

    • pauldb says:

      Of course. You wonder if they’ll let you on a plane with confirmed COVID-19?

      More interesting is whether your insurance will pay your accommodation: seems a typical situation where you can’t travel yet due to a medical condition.

  • Colin says:

    Sounds like a lot better than a quarantine requirement. I’m not sure what the issue is. I’d imagine a lot of people who go to Dubai have loadsamoney so I’m not sure why getting a test is such a problem?

    • Tom says:

      It’s not just the cost (although if you are a family of four, you are presumably looking at £1k+ for tests both ways which is a not insignificant sum even for well above average earners), it’s the hassle.

      If you are someone who happily just throws money at a problem, having to arrange for your family to take tests both ways which you then have to worry you may or may not get back in time may just encourage you to pay more to go somewhere else, surely?

      • Colin says:

        All fair points but it’s not that unlikely that other places might start having similar requirements too.

        Germany are already talking about doing this for for people coming from “high risk” places. Who is on that list, for example, could change at very short notice.

  • vol says:

    I’m going to don my tin hat here – but i think it’s good.

    I would never claim to know all the science and the statistics behind it all but we do know ethnic minorities (although ethnic majority in UAE) are perhaps more susceptible to this disease.

    This sorts out those who want to go from those who really need to go.

    If you value and respect a country and its people you would happily do this. It’s not just solely about tourist industry and the next adventure. Lives are at risk here.

  • Matthew says:

    Nice little earner for someone. No doubt there will be something in it for the rule makers. Avoid this place, and I hope people remember we are in the midst of the largest health crisis in modern times.

    • Nic says:

      Nice earner indeed. I’ve seen home swab tests offered at £190 quid a pop.

  • Colin says:

    “ in Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn has said coronavirus tests compulsory will be made compulsory for anyone travelling into the country from high-risk areas.”

    • will says:

      It’s a very sensible measure to take, as long as the infrastructure to carry out the tests and administer the results is working properly.

      I’m very uncomfortable with air travel as it currently stands, one flare up at a hub and you have the potential for covid to be widespread over many countries before you even realise it’s happened.

  • Matthew Bennion says:

    There goes our 6 day trip in September then… The fight for a refund to begin now!

    • Colin says:

      Can’t you just get a private test (with a guarantee of results within 24, for example) before you go?

  • Ali M says:

    This isn’t good news 🙁 I foresee though that there will be a massive backlash and this is BOUND TO get reversed / eased / changed to customary 30 pound test at the airport. This is too harsh and just won’t float for long if airlines want business

  • 2002ad says:

    I didn’t realise until yesterday that you also need a test if you are travelling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi! However they are a bit ahead of us in terms of testing, they now do a 5 min test in rapid screening centres, which apparently is working well (and costs only £10 per person). https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/europe/uae-border-covid-19-rapid-screening-centre-proves-successful.

    Yes its sucks as a tourist, but you can see they are really looking after their residents… wish we could say the same here!

    • Spursdebs says:

      I’m not worried about getting a test done in Dubai, I’m sure they will have testing stations in place for this, I’m more concerned about finding a place near home to get the departing U.K. test which is acceptable.

      • Colin says:

        A link posted on the first page includes U.K. based test facilities approved by the UAE