The UAE has been firmly off-limits to UK residents since January 2021, in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, in early August the decision was made to move the country down the traffic light system, from red list to amber list. This transition brings a welcome relaxation of travel restrictions, the reinstatement of several UK-UAE flight routes and (most importantly) brings us a step closer to recovery for the travel industry. Experts are hailing the traffic light change as a much-needed opportunity to make up for pandemic-related revenue losses.
Aside from being a top hotspot for traditional tourism, the UAE has long been a popular destination for businesses because of its award-winning hotels, convention centres and conference facilities. It’s no surprise, therefore, that there has been a recent surge in travel enquiries from UK residents and companies eager to get back to the Emirates.
So, what are the new rules around travel to the UAE and what can corporate travellers expect from point of departure right through to return? In our latest article, we lay out all the details you need to know to help make your business travel planning easier.
Whilst amber country status has certainly made travel to the Emirates easier, there are still certain protocols that business travellers and holidaymakers will need to adhere to in order to make their trip as smooth as possible.
When it comes to vaccines, travellers must register their international vaccination certificates for verification five days before their date of departure to the UAE. To do this, you must register your certificate via the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) Smart app. It’s important to note that only vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are deemed acceptable.
There are also certain testing requirements you’ll need to follow when entering the emirates. Anybody travelling from the UK to Dubai and Abu Dhabi will need to take a PCR test no more than 72 hours before departure. You must then present a certificate at check-in, which confirms you’ve tested negative. Without this certificate of proof, you won’t be allowed to travel.
In addition to this certificate, visitors to Dubai are required to fill in a Health Declaration Form and a Quarantine Form. Once completed, both forms must be printed and presented to the Dubai Health Authority staff upon your arrival.
A second test upon arrival in either of these destinations is also required and travellers will need to isolate pending the result of that test. In the case of testing positive, the type of symptoms you’re presenting with will dictate whether you’ll need to self-isolate in a government facility, a hospital, your hotel or privately arranged accommodation. Currently, travellers who have tested positive are required to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.
As a British passport holder, there’s no need to apply for a visitor/tourist visa in advance of your trip. You’ll be granted one free of charge once you arrive in the emirates, with the visa being stamped on your passport as you go through Immigration. The visa is valid for 30 days.
To make travel within the UAE easier for visitors, the health authorities have developed apps that enable users to find up-to-date information on COVID-19 measures and vaccination information, as well as to display their vaccination status and receive their test results.
If you’re travelling to Dubai you’ll need to download the COVID19-DXB app on your phone. If you’re visiting Abu Dhabi, you’ll need to download the Alhosn app to then secure the Abu Dhabi Green Pass – this pass is required to gain access to public spaces throughout the region.
Although the law on masks was lifted in the UK back in July of this year, travellers are still recommended to wear a face-covering when flying. Some airlines, like Emirates and British Airways, require all travellers to wear a face mask as part of their protective measures. So, whether you are travelling for work or leisure, make sure to check with the airline to see if face coverings are mandatory before beginning your journey.
It’s also important to note that, once you’ve arrived in the UAE, wearing a mask in public spaces (including outdoors) and keeping to a social distance of two metres is compulsory.
Despite borders opening up slowly, there are positive signs suggesting we’re moving towards greater stability when it comes to travel between the UK and the UAE. With the rise in travel enquiries, airlines are planning to bring back more of their flight routes linking the two countries. Emirates is one case in point; they announced they will be resuming flights between Newcastle International Airport and Dubai as of 15 October 2021.
Furthermore, as part of plans to incentivise more travel to their country, the UAE government has capped the cost of PCR tests at a very affordable AED50 (less than £10). Great news for travellers who want to avoid shelling out huge amounts on tests.
UK residents and businesses will also be happy to know that authorities in the UAE are working hard to make the country as safe as possible for visitors. In addition to the rules around social distancing and mask-wearing, which makes for a more reassuring visit, the country also has one of the most successful vaccination programmes in the world with more than 71% of the population already fully vaccinated. And we aren’t far behind either, as over 64% of the British population have had their two jabs.
If you are keen to start planning your next business trip to the UAE, ACE Travel is here to help. We aim to take the stress off your shoulders and assist you in every aspect of your travel planning – from providing expert advice to securing you the best deals on the market – to ensure your trip is a success.
To learn more about our business travel services or to get some friendly travel advice, contact the team today and we’ll be happy to help.