COVID-19 travel rules to enter Dubai will shift the same way it does with other countries. Therefore you must be prepared. Having the right documents available is on you.

The airline will do a thorough verification which can be a bit stressful if you haven’t flown in 18 months. As part of my Plan Your Perfect Dubai Trip series, let’s have a deeper look at the COVID-19 entry and exit rules.

Flying into Dubai

COVID-19 Travel Rules for Dubai are pretty stringent.

All visitors must provide a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test certificate. Moreover, the test must be taken no more than 72 hours before departure. However, I would advise you make sure your arrival time is within that 72 hours period.

Dubai only accepts a Reverse Transcription‑Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT‑PCR) test certificate. Therefore, insure you are requesting that specific test to avoid a costly mistake.

Visitors have to provide a digital or printed official certificate in English. Bring a 2 or 3 copies along in case your smart phone decides to melt down on you at customs. In general, as a rule, always bring a paper copy for every important document of your trip:

  • Proof of return ticket
  • Hotel bookings
  • Proof of travel insurance (in COVID-19 context)

Also, you must download the COVID19 – DXB Smart App available with iOS and Android.

It’s very important to keep in mind that you cannot submit an official certificate that has been used to enter another destination within the validity period!

Visitors from the following countries have to take another COVID-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.

I travelled to Dubai back in September 2021. When we landed we figured out that all citizens had to go through a PCR test. Therefore, the official rules per country were not applied. Instead, Dubai Authorities decided to test every single adult traveler.

I believe this shift was due to the EXPO 2020 coming up in October 1, 2021.

I think it’s a good initiative to test everyone on arrival. It makes for a more pleasant and healthier vacation in Dubai 😉

Departing from Dubai

Dubai does not require visitors to take a COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test at departure. However, your home destination will dictate whether you need one or not. Check with your country’s COVID-19 entry policy.

Undoubtedly, Canadians have to enter their travel information using the following apps:

  • ArriveCAN app available with iOS and Android
  • CanBorder eDeclaration app available with iOS and Android
  • Provide proof of a negative RT-PCR test

The following Dubai Health Authority (DHA) labs provide COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test certificates:

– Agiomix
– Al Garhoud Private Hospital
– Al Zahra Hospital
– American Hospitals Dubai
– CPS Clinical Pathology Services
– Dubai Health Authority (Latifa Labs)

Source: Emirate Airlines

– Mediclinic Hospitals Group
– Medsol Dubai Medical Laboratory
– National Reference Laboratory
– Viafet Genomic laboratory
– Scientific Clinical Laboratories (Unilabs)
– Star Metropolis Clinical Laboratories
– York Diagnostic Laboratories

Other hospitals in Dubai will provide COVID-19 tests

  • Al Tadawi Medical Centre
  • Aster Hospitals in Dubai
  • Canadian Specialist Hospital
  • Emirates Hospital
  • King’s College Hospital
  • DubaiMedCare
  • Medeor Hospital
  • NMC Healthcare
  • Prime Medical Centres
  • Saudi German Hospital
  • Thumbay Hospital
  • Zulekha Hospital

Also, SEHA COVID-19 drive-through Service Centers have three drive-through SEHA screening centres at Mina Rashid, Al Khawaneej, and City Walk. SEHA, which means health in Arabic, is the UAE’s largest operator of public hospitals and clinics.

Furthermore, this service is convenient for 2 main reasons: if you’re driving, then you’re waiting in the comfort of your car and don’t have to show up at a hospital or clinic. The second reason is the cost. It’s only AED65 (C$22.69) vs AED150 (C$51.50) in private clinics and hospitals. You still have to schedule your appointment. Availabilities may be issue if you don’t early.

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) App poster at Mall of the Emirates
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) App poster at the Mall of the Emirates

Another place to get the test is in Dubai major malls. I did mine at the Mall of the Emirates at a cost of C$51.50. The service is provided by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and is pretty straightforward.

Don’t forget to use a credit card with no foreign exchange fee such as the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite card. It allows you to escape the pesky 2.5% foreign exchange fee, even on purchases made online non-Canadian retailers.

Results will be forwarded by SMS only then show up on the DHA app. Therefore you should get a local SIM card when you land in Dubai to avoid any stressful situation.

I gave my Canadian cell phone number and the results did not come in. As soon as I got a local SIM card and changed the phone number in file on the app via the chat, it came in seconds after.

Finally don’t forget to bring your passport!!!


Be very thorough with the paperwork and your obligations. COVID-19 Travel rules for Dubai are one of the most stringent in the world.

Make sure you’ve downloaded all the appropriate health and travel apps: DHA, COVID19 – DXB Smart, ArriveCAN and CanBorder eDeclaration.

Also, you may get tested on arrival in Dubai Airport (DXB) despite proof of a negative RT-PCR test. It’s part of the COVID-19 travel rollercoaster. But the Dubai Authorities are very professional. They want visitors to have a pleasant stay in the city, so they take COVID-19 screening extremely seriously.

For me it was a relief to see all the means and procedures in place. It made for a great Dubai vacation!