Tourist Visa Abu Dhabi Dubai Sharjah UAE
Tourist Visas are usually available to all nationalities, except Israeli passport holders, and must be prearranged, often through a hotel but possibly also through an airline or other travel related company based in the UAE (new visa rules after July 2008). Some hotels, travel agents, airlines and other companies will only arrange a Tourist Visa for a customer, others will give you a choice of tourist or visit visa. Tourist visa is about 30%-50% cheaper than a visit visa.
Citizens of one of the free visa on arrival countries can obtain a UAE Visit Visa (different from a Tourist Visa) on arrival at any border entry point to the UAE simply by presenting their passport at passport control. To obtain a tourist visa for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, our best understanding is you should do one of the following:
- If you are from one of the countries that can get a visit visa on arrival, do that.
- Otherwise contact the airline, hotel, or travel agent that you arranged your trip with and ask them if they can arrange a Tourist Visa (not all airlines can or will, and one could argue it’s a bit of a racket but easily getting a tourist visa is one argument in favor of buying a ticket from a UAE based airline – Emirates, FlyDubai, Etihad, Air Arabia, RAK Airways). Fees will vary from one company to the next so check with more than one if you have a choice of options. Only travel agents and hotels based in the UAE can arrange a tourist visa.
- Check the website of one of the UAE airlines (Emirates, FlyDubai, Etihad, Air Arabia, RAK Airways) for a list of travel agent partners in your country – they are likely to be more reliable when it comes to arranging a UAE visa, if they are able to do that, even if you are not flying with one of the UAE airlines.
- If you have a close relative in the UAE, they may be able to sponsor you for a Visit Visa (not a Tourist Visa).
- Entering the UAE with a pre-arranged tourist visa does not guarantee entry but most people most of the time have no problems. Dubai is likely to be the most hassle-free emirate (but Sharjah the highest risk of hassle). To minimise hassles at passport control (where they might ask awkward questions), if you don’t have a hotel booking, at least know the name of a hotel in the emirate you are staying in in case they ask you where you are staying (they are very unlikely to ask for evidence, and if they do, just say you were just going to go to the hotel or ask at the airport tourist information desk for other possibilities if it is full). Don’t say you are staying with a friend, especially of the opposite gender, especially in Sharjah – technically it is illegal for unmarried unrelated adult men and women to share private accommodation but it’s not usually a problem (at least not for British football players visiting Dubai with their girlfriends) but don’t volunteer information about those arrangements to anyone in authority.
1. Documents needed if visa is sponsored by a UAE resident (this information might not apply to tourist visas or visit visas after July 2008)
- Visa application form
- Copy of sponsors passport with copy of residence visa
- Copy of sponsors labour contract in Arabic with monthly salary figure
- Copy of trade licence if sponsor is self-employed
- Copy of traveler’s ticket
- Refundable deposit of AED 1000 for each person being sponsored