Getting a Visa for Abu Dhabi
Coming to Abu Dhabi sometimes requires arranging for a visa (entry permit) in advance, the type of which varies depending on the purpose of visit and duration of stay.
An entry permit is a special document which permits a foreigner, accompanied by the persons mentioned in his passport or travel document, to enter the territories of the UAE. The General Directorate of Residence and and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi (GDRFA), UAE airport authorities and embassies abroad are the authorities responsible for issuing various types of visas and permits to foreigners who wish to enter the country depending on the type of visa and purpose of entry.
While the citizens of some countries are granted visas upon their arrival at the airport, others can easily obtain it from the UAE embassies and consulates worldwide or through authorised travel agents. Simply decide what you would like to do in Abu Dhabi and then get started.
Nationalities Exempt from Entry Permit Requirement
Citizens of Australia, Andorra, Austria, Brunei, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, United States of America and Vatican State can get the visa upon arrival at Abu Dhabi Airport. However, this list is subject to change from time to time and it is, therefore, advisable to check with the UAE embassy abroad or the airline company before coming to the UAE.
Types of Entry Permits
Citizens of other countries not included in the above list need to get an entry permit through a sponsor who can be an entity including tourism establishments, hotels, airlines or company based in the UAE, or an individual, such as a UAE national, or an expatriate who is already a resident in the country. In order to obtain an entry permit, the visitor has to send a copy of his passport to his sponsor in the UAE who should submit the application to the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi (GDRFA). Once the entry permit is granted, the sponsor can either send it to the sponsored person or deposit it at the airport visa counter for the visitor to collect it on arrival.
The following types of entry permits are issued according to the purpose of the visit:
- Tourism Entry Permit: tourists can get a visa through a hotel in the UAE, or even through some accredited travel agencies. The visa is valid for one month and one time extendable after the approval of GDRFA.
- Transit Permit: they are issued to individuals mainly by the UAE airport authorities. The transit visa is valid for 4 days (96 hours) after entry, non-renewable and can only be issued if the visitor is holding a valid ticket for an onward flight.
- Visit Entry Permit: a visit visa can be issued to a company operating in the UAE, a UAE national sponsor or an expatriate resident in the country who can sponsor his first and second degree family members. This type of visa is valid for 30 days (short term visits) and 90 days (long terms visits).
- Entry Permit for Studying: these types of entry permits are useful for students who are sponsored by one of the licensed universities, colleges or academic or research institutions in the country to join short term courses. It is valid for 60 days and can be extended twice for a similar period.
- Entry Permit for Medical Treatment: patients and those who have medical follow-up visits can apply for a 60-day entry permit extendable once for a similar period, provided that they are sponsored by one of the hospitals in the UAE.
- Entry Permit for Attending Exhibition, Festival or Conference: this permit allows those who wish to attend an exhibition or conference held in the country provided that they are sponsored by an entity licensed by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). This non-extendable permit is valid for 30 days only.
- Multiple-entry Visa: multiple-entry visas are issued to business visitors who have a relationship with either a multinational or a local company, and who are visiting the UAE frequently. This type of non-renewable visa is valid for six months from the date of issue, and the duration of each stay is 14 consecutive days.
- Employment Residence Visa: the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi (GDRFA) can give expatriates permission to enter the country for work, provided that the concerned authorities have provided their approval, such as an employment contract from a private or public organisation. The entry permit allows its holder to enter the country once within 2 months of the date of issuing and stay for a maximum period of 30 days from the date of entry during which the employer should approach GDRFA for processing a residency visa for the employee which is usually valid for 2 years.