Coronavirus: COVID-19 PCR test needed to travel to UAE, here’s all you need to know

Coronavirus precautionary measures at Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE. (Screengrab/WAM)

All travelers arriving in or transiting through the United Arab Emirates must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from August 1, authorities announced on Wednesday.

The announcement is a change in policy, and now tourists, residents and citizens, as well as those transiting through the airport, must take a coronavirus test before arriving in the UAE.

Latest: Coronavirus: Countries that need two COVID-19 PCR tests to travel to Dubai list

Previously, the UAE had said that taking a PCR test on arrival at the airport was sufficient.

According to the latest Emirates information, 29 countries required a coronavirus test before boarding the plane and again on arrival, while all other countries just required a test before boarding.

The update also added that flying from Dubai to the United Kingdom or European Union required taking a PCR test before arriving at the airport within the UAE.

Read more: Coronavirus: Flying from Dubai to UK, European Union requires COVID-19 PCR test

Here is all you need to know about the latest regulations, based on Wednesday’s announcement and the information listed on the official screening.purehealth.ae website.

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Note: While the announcement says that it applies to all seven emirates of the UAE, in the past regulations announced regarding the UAE have not always been applied to the emirate of Dubai. Al Arabiya English reached out to NCEMA for confirmation on Thursday morning but had not received a response at time of publication. As of Thursday morning, Emirates airlines still listed only 10 countries that required a test before departure to Dubai.

Update: On Thursday lunchtime, NCEMA issued an update in Arabic via Twitter extending the period of validity required for a test before arrival from 72 hours to 96 hours.

Read more: Coronavirus: Emirates airlines to offer free COVID-19 medical coverage for travelers

What did the latest announcement on UAE COVID-19 travel rules say?

The announcement was made on Wednesday by Dr. Saif al-Dhaheri, the official spokesman for the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA).

“Dr. Saif al-Dhaheri announced the necessity of all returning travelers presenting a PCR test result from accredited laboratories, pointing out that these laboratories can be found through the website screening.purehealth.ae, which will be published in the official channels,” a statement from the Emirates News Agency read.

“Al-Dhahiri stressed the need for air carriers to ensure that those arriving for their flights have a negative test result and ensuring that the test certificate is issued by recognized centers. Tests should have a validity period not exceeding 72 hours upon arrival in the UAE, regardless of the departure airport, as of 24 July 2020,” the statement added.

“The decision to apply prior testing on all those coming to the country shall be applied as of 1st August without impingement on the mandatory testing measures that travellers have to follow upon arrival at the country's airports,” added the official WAM news agency.

The announcement was followed by a tweet from the UAE government, which extended the time period from 72 hours to 96 hours.

“The National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announce the update of the time period for the negative PCR examination result for all arrivals across the country's airports, which should not exceed 96 hours from the date of the examination, instead of 72 hours as previously announced,” tweeted the UAE government official account.

Do I now need to book a COVID-19 test before coming to the UAE?

Yes, according to the latest announcement and subsequent update on Twitter, all arrivals in the UAE must take a COVID-19 PCR test at an accredited laboratory within 96 hours of their departure. Upon arrival, they must then present a negative PCR test result.

Do I now need to book a COVID-19 test before coming to Dubai?

While Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, has set some of its own regulations on coronavirus, the latest announcement appears to cover all seven emirates as it states “upon arrival in the UAE.”

As of Thursday morning, Emirates airlines still listed only 10 countries that required a test before departure to Dubai.

Al Arabiya English reached out to NCEMA for confirmation on Thursday morning but had not received a response at time of publication.

How long before my flight do I need to take the COVID-19 PCR test?

Latest: A tweet from the UAE government at 12:30 p.m. Thursday lunchtime extended the time period from 72 hours to 96 hours.

It also said that the time duration was from when the traveler took the test, and not received the results.

“Tests should have a validity period not exceeding 72 hours upon arrival in the UAE, regardless of the departure airport, as of 24 July 2020,” said the first announcement.

According to the screening.purehealth.ae website, test results are sent via email 24-48 hours after taking a test.

Al Arabiya English reached out to NCEMA for clarification on Thursday morning as it was unclear whether tests are valid for longer than a 96-hour period.

It is also not clear if the test has to be valid to board the plane, or only on arrival.

How do I find an accredited center where I can take the COVID-19 PCR test?

The screening.purehealth.ae website has a list of accredited centers for 28 countries.

Travelers will be presented with accredited centers after selecting whether they are a tourist or a resident, their country of departure, and which emirate they are visiting.

What if no accredited centers were listed in my country of departure?

It was unclear what travelers should do if their accredited center was not listed on the screening.purehealth.ae website as of Thursday morning.

Al Arabiya English has reached out to NCEMA for clarification.

Which countries are listed with accredited centers for COVID-19 PCR tests?

Screening.purehealth.ae lists 28 countries with accredited centers:

Australia
Austria
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Belgium
China
Czech Republic
Egypt
Ethiopia
France
Germany
Italy
India
Jordan
Korea (Republic of)
Lebanon
Malaysia
Netherlands
Pakistan
Portugal
Romania
Russian Federation
Slovakia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Ukraine
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

How do I book an appointment?

Travelers must register with an accredited center in the their country of departure on Screening.purehealth.ae.

After receiving confirmation of registration, they must then contact the laboratory directly to arrange an appointment. Screening.purehealth.ae lists the contact details for each accredited center on its website.

How much does the test cost?

The cost of the test varies based on each center in each country. Local currency and exchange rate will also influence the cost.

After selecting a center, travelers will receive a confirmation of the final cost before proceeding with payment.

Booking a test in the UK cost 542 dirhams ($147) on July 23, 2020.

What documents are required?

UAE residents are required to upload a scan of their passport. They are also required to enter details from both their passport and their Emirates ID number.

Visitors must upload a scan of their passport and enter their passport and national ID number.

Is there any cancelation fee?

Yes, according to screening.purehealth.ae. The cancelation fee is listed in the Terms and Conditions section of the website.

Read more:

Coronavirus: ‘No date yet’ for international flights to, from Saudi Arabia, says GACA

Coronavirus: Dubai prepares to resume medical tourism sector amid COVID-19

Coronavirus: Dubai launches ‘Dubai assured’ stamp for tourism, retail establishments

Al Arabiya English's Ismaeel Naar contributed to this report.

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Last Update: Sunday, 26 July 2020 KSA 13:20 - GMT 10:20
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