a beach with a tall building and umbrellas
Image by Keerthi Ramesh from Pixabay

Easier doesn’t necessarily mean better, but in the travel world we’re living in – easier can be good. After a successful tourism relaunch, Dubai is now softening covid-19 entry restrictions and allowing select visitors to test on arrival, rather than provide a negative test result before a flight to the UAE. With readily available testing at the airport and also even sent directly to your hotel room in the UAE, it’s good news for some.

UAE Eases Pre-Flight Testing

Germany and the UK represent a huge segment of visitors to Dubai, and now travelers from both European nations – well, European for now – can opt to test on arrival rather than arranging a pre-flight covid-19 PCR test.

In addition, lead times for pre-flight tests to Dubai from all destinations have been extended from 72 to 96 hours of validity, giving travelers an easier window to receive their negative test result.

With tests costing up to £150/$200 or more and requiring 24-48 hour return time, the margins were slim to successfully acquire a test, and made travel difficult to manage.

a cityscape with a river and a body of water
Image by Selim Mohammed from Pixabay

Emirates, the UAE, other nations and airlines have since partnered with Boots Pharmacy in the UK to access rapid pre-flight testing. This week, Boots unveiled a new covid-19 test which can be taken at local pharmacies and deliver results in just 12 minutes, though it’s unclear which destinations will initially accept its validity.

What about other countries?

If you’re planning to visit Dubai and the UAE from a country not named Germany or Great Britain, you’ll still need a negative test prior to departure, and maybe two tests total. It all depends on where you’re originating. For visitors from some US states, and about 50 other nations, you’ll need your pre-flight test, but will also need to submit to a second test on arrival in Dubai, Arab News confirms.

The list of countries from which a single pre-departure test is the main requirement to enter Dubai as a tourist includes…

Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives Islands, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand andTurkey. The USA is also included, but only for departures from New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago or Seattle.


And if you’re coming to Dubai as a tourist from any of the following countries below, you’ll need a negative covid-19 PCR test before departure, otherwise you’ll be left off the flight, and will also need to submit to a second covid-19 test on arrival…

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United States departures from California, Florida, Texas, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


The new changes are already in effect, which illustrates the rapidly changing landscape travel presents right now. For many visitors, getting to Dubai just became a lot easier, particularly as Emirates continue to expand A380 service. For everyone else, it remains a rather straight forward option, where you’ll need to pay for a test before departure.

Be sure to always check official entry restrictions on the IATA/Timatic resource!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. ‘well European for now…’
    Do you somehow expect that the UK will magically cease to be part of the European continent after 31st December? 😉

    You mean that the UK will not be a member of the EU (in transition or in the departures hall of sorts) but that should be irrelevant to the story being reported.

  2. When is this effective from Paul, on the visit Dubai site today it still says prior to boarding, pcr, 96 hours.
    Would you advise any details of the test upon arrival for uk travellers, and the conditions applied, such as would we be required to isolate until the test is given? And the cost of such a test?


    1. You have to stay in your hotel room until the airport test comes through, usually 24 hours max I’m advised. The downside is if negative then a further 14 days isolation so holiday ruined..so much better option to test before travel where 96 hours is very doable, most get tests back in 48 hours max, at least in uk right now, Boots cheapest option @£120 but limited stores. Other tests at various clinics See to range £180-250.

      1. Hi Angela,
        Thanks! We fly on the 5th 6pm, Tuesday. My 96 would be therefore Fri 6 pm, and thinking Sat and Sun could be no proving, as it is the weekend leaving just Monday… eeeek
        Re boots thanks got that…

        Do you know of any uae government website that has the test on arrival expounded?

        I do agree though best b4 we go and we will do this at Boots…

        Thanks again…

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