UAE VISA (For DUBAI & ABU DHABI): requirements & how to apply

This post includes information on how to get a UAE visa if you’re traveling as a tourist, going to a friend or family, or transiting on your way to another destination as of 2020/03. If you’re flying to Dubai, Abu Dhabi or any of the other emirates for work or any purpose other than leisure, this guide won’t be of help.

One of the highlights of last year for me was my short stop in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I was there for two reasons: to visit one of my closest friends, who moved to Dubai a few years ago, and to take advantage of a stopover. I was coming from a longer trip around Morocco and Turkey, and my flight back to Manila (Philippines) was connecting at Dubai Airport, so I chose to just seize the opportunity and stay there for over a week.

UAE Visa is probably the easiest visa we got. It was expensive, but it was relatively effortless, especially given that we have a friend in Dubai, who served as a sponsor.

Yep, sponsor. If you’re applying for a UAE Visa, you need a sponsor. It can be a family member, a colleague, or a friend. This will make things a lot easier. If you don’t know anybody there, an airline, hotel, or travel agency can sponsor you.

In the beginning, we had a challenging time figuring out the process. There’s just so much info online and they somewhat say different things because they serve their own interest. For example, some UAE-based airlines also offer visa services but they require flight tickets booked with them. dozens of hotels are also authorized to process visas, but numerous of them require that book rooms with them (for apparent reasons). In this post, I’ll try to summarize everything so you have all possible options.


Who needs a UAE Visa?
UAE VISA REQUIREMENTSAdditional requirements for visit visa
Optional Documents

UAE Hotels
UAE travel Agencies

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Who needs a UAE Visa?

Since I am a Philippine passport-holder, I had to protected a visa first before entering UAE. Not everyone needs a visa, though.

If you’re a citizen of any member-state of the Gulf collaboration Council (GCC), no visa is needed. here are the six GCC members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar*. I’m putting an asterisk on Qatar because although it is a member, its diplomatic ties with UAE and other members have been severed in a rift that began in June 2017.

Visa-on-arrival is available free-of-charge for the citizens of the following countries:
EUROPE: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, UK, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria,
ASIA: Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore
OTHERS: United States, Australia, new Zealand

For the rest of us, a visa is required.

Note that this doesn’t get affixed to your passport. A regular 30-day traveler visa should be used within 60 days from the date of issuance.


Travelers going to the UAE for leisure has three visa types to choose from depending on your purpose and travel duration.

Visit Visa, if you’re traveling to UAE to visit an immediate family member who is a local of the UAE (sponsor). The family member should be earning much more than AED 4000 or AED 3000 + accommodation. The sponsor ought to be the one to apply for you.

Tourist Visa, if you’re going to a distant relative or friend or if you don’t know anybody there. The regular single-entry visa can let you stay for up to 30 days, although a multiple-entry visa is also available. If you know someone in UAE, it would be faster and simpler if they apply for you. but if you have no connections, you can get a visa through an airline, hotel, or travel agency. (More info about that below)

Transit visa, if you’re going to UAE for at least 8 hours but not longer than 4 days (including the arrival and departure days). This can also be pre-arranged. This visa can be used within 14 days from the issue date.

Here’s a quick summary of the validity, maximum number of days allowed, and costs per visa type. I’m also indicating a range of prices per type. rates vary greatly, depending on where you apply.

As of July 2017
None of these visas can be extended.

In June 2018, the UAE government approved the waiving of fees for transit visas for 48 hours. However, I have no idea about details of this: until when it will be implemented or what requirements are needed. The announcement, however, states that transit visa may be extended for up to 96 hours for a fee of AED 50.

Important: In a memo released on June 2, 2017, Dubai’s immigration has purchased agencies to stop accepting applications for 90-day visit visas from Filipino and Pakistani citizens for the next 3 months. Not sure if this will be restored in the future but until even more notice, this option is no longer available for travelers from the Philippines and Pakistan. update (Oct 2018): This has been restored.


The following are the required files when applying for a UAE visa. These are the basic requirements.

Your sponsor may add more. For example, if you book your visa through Etihad Airways, they will ask for Etihad flight tickets. If you book with a hotel, they can demand that you reserve a room with them. travel agencies often don’t have these extra reqs, but as I scanned prices, I found theirs to be a bit much more expensive. Some agencies ask for flight and reservations too, some don’t. The agency where we applied didn’t ask for these so we didn’t submit.

Anyway, here are the required files when applying for a UAE (Dubai) visa:

Clear scanned passport copy (the bio page and the last page). should have at least 6 months validity.

Scanned colored passport-size photo. 4.3 x 5.5cm. White background. At least 80% of your face should be visible.

Accomplished application form. It is typically the sponsor (travel agency, host) who does this.

Visa fee

If you’re sponsored by someone in the UAE, they will also be asked for a copy of their local Visa and their Emirates ID (resident card).

If you’re a parent traveling with a minor (18 years old and below), you should also submit a copy of birth certificate of the minor

If applying for a transit visa, a hotel reservation and onward flight ticket are typically collected too.

Additional requirements for visit visa

Additional requirements if going to immediate family:

If sponsored by a wife or husband: marriage contract attested from Ministry of foreign Affairs or UAE Embassy

If you’re a minor getting sponsored by a parent in UAE, attested birth certificates

If your relationship with sponsor cannot be proven from family names displayed on the sponsor’s and the invited relative’s passports: relationship proof attested from the Embassy

If your sponsor works for a private company: Attested work contract

If your sponsor is a UAE government employee: a salary certificate

Optional Documents

The following files are NOT required. These are often ignored, but the travel agency or sponsor may ask for in purchase to speed up processing of your visa.

If you have traveled to UAE within the past year, a copy of the entry and exit stamps on your passport

If you have traveled to the USA, UK, Schengen countries, Canada, Russia, Australia or new Zealand within the past 5 years, submit a copy of your visas.


Once you have all the documents, it’s time to find a “sponsor”.

Like I said earlier, a sponsor can be a family member or a friend living in UAE. It will be much faster if they take care of the application. just send them your papers. but if you don’t know anybody there, an airline, hotel, or travel agency in UAE can serve as your sponsor.

UAE-based Airlines

Etihad. You can apply here.

Emirates. much more info here.

UAE Hotels

Most 3-star hotels (and up) are able to process UAE visas. So if you’re already eyeing a hotel, send them an email if they also offer visa services because there’s a big chance that they do.

You may also check their official website. For example, Jumeira group — which owns and runs the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah beach Hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Living world trade Centre Residence, Jumeirah Creekside hotel — offers plenty of visa info on their website. If you would be staying at any of them, you may apply here.

UAE travel Agencies

In our case, my friend in Dubai who took care of our application went to a travel agency and it went smoothly. We didn’t run into any problem. You can also avail of their services if you don’t know anyone. here are the details of the agency that processed our application:

Tel No. : 00971-4224-3902
Address: Al Ghurair mall (Opposite Rayhaan Rotana Hotel), Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

That’s it! We got our visa after only 1 day. ?

If you’re a Filipino, UAE is a destination that typically raises a red flag for Philippine immigration officers. If you’re concerned about getting offloaded, please read this post: how to avoid getting offloaded.

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