200,000 UAE residents stuck abroad no longer need ICA approval to return

200,000 UAE residents stuck abroad no longer need ICA approval to return

All UAE residents trapped approved no longer need to wait for special approval to return home, the government said on Wednesday. 

All UAE residents abroad, who have a valid UAE visa, had to apply for approval to return to the country – if they were travelling into any emirate except Dubai. 

But this procedure has now been removed and travel is permitted into the country as long as travellers carry out specific procedures. 

Such procedures include updating their data, including a valid Emirates ID, passport number and citizenship. This will allow residents to travel without needing approval. 

The ICA portal appeared to be down at times possibly due to demand after the news that ICA approval was being scrapped.

200,000 UAE residents stuck abroad

The government’s official estimate suggests more than 200,000 people with a valid UAE visa were abroad when borders closed due to the pandemic. Since then, families and workers have slowly returned but many were unable to secure permission under the previous residents return programme. 

On Twitter, the National Crisis Emergency Management Authority said the decision coincided with the “end of the summer vacation for academic institutions and the return of commercial activities and social facilities to normal.”

Once details have been updated, travellers must take a Covid-19 test – a PCR nasal swab test at an accredited lab. The negative test must be taken within 96 hours of their flight and submitted when booking a ticket to the UAE. 

NCEMA said that “all precautionary measures will be applied to residents upon arrival to the UAE, which includes a lab Covid-19 test and to abide by quarantines rules, plus downloading Al Hosn app, in order to preserve their health and safety.” 

NO ICA approval needed - UAE residents are happy to return home
NO ICA approval needed – UAE residents are happy to return home

Tourists can not travel to Abu Dhabi but can land in Dubai with a negative PCR test or DPI blood test. 

Dubai has its own procedures which require its residents to apply to its General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs immigration service to return to the country as well as a negative Covid-19 test. 

Tourists planning to go to Dubai do not need approval but need to be tested in their home country before travelling. 

New arrivals into the country might be asked to take a second PCR test at the airport and must stay at a specified residence until results are known. 

Only then will travellers (tourists or returning residents) will be allowed to leave quarantine in Dubai – if the test is negative. A 14-day quarantine is mandatory elsewhere in UAE regardless of the result. 

“The development is welcome news for UAE residents at home or overseas, who can now travel with ease and return to Abu Dhabi freely without having to wait for approval to do so while abroad,” Etihad Airways said.

“With the gradual return to normal life in Abu Dhabi, this step will further ease the re-entry process for a greater number of professionals as schools and universities re-open and regular working practices are resumed.”

Etihad Airways urged residents with a visa to “submit their passport number, and Emirates ID number, to obtain instant verification of the UAE entry status,” to the ICA portal before booking a flight. 

Travel agencies expecting influx

Travel agencies are expecting an influx of inquiries after a decision to scrap the approval process for residents to return to Abu Dhabi.

“This is good going for everyone and a welcome sign for the UAE,” said Mohamed Zoeb, sales manager for Avalon Travels in Dubai.

“There was a big increase in inquiries after the decision was announced.

“There was uncertainty when every emirate had a different process and separate permits were required but now, even at the corporate level, we are seeing a lot more interest about booking travel to the UAE.”



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