"Do I need a transit visa for Dubai?" is a common concern of international travelers transiting through the country. If you've ever flown from the Americas or Europe to Asia, or vice versa, chances are you've had a stopover in Dubai International Airport (DBX).
Located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this airport currently ranks as the busiest international airport in the world. Last year, over 78,000,000 passengers passed through this small Gulf state, making it the premier hub for travel between Asia and the rest of the world. If you have been or are going to be one of these passengers, you may have been wondering if you need a transit visa.
To help you navigate the tricky waters of visa requirements, I have put together the guide below. I hope you find it useful for your upcoming trips with stopovers in Dubai.
In which cases do I need a visa for Dubai?
To answer this question, the following factors are important:
- How long is your layover?
- Are you planning to leave the airport?
- Are you eligible for a free visit visa?
- When is a visa not needed?
IF: You are in Dubai for a layover of less than 24 hours, you aren't leaving the airport, and you are traveling on the same airline and won't need to collect your bags, then you won't need a transit visa.
IF: You are in the airport longer than 24 hours or are planning on leaving the airport and visiting the city, then you will need a visa.
So, who is eligible for a visa?
Many travelers are eligible for a 30-day visit visa on arrival.
If you are from one of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, then you are automatically eligible for a visa, or in some cases do not even need one. These countries are:
- Saudi Arabia
- UAE (obviously you don't need a visa to visit your own country!)
Check the list below for your country of nationality. If it is on the list, you will not need to make prior arrangements before coming to the UAE. Basically, all you will need to do is get off the plane and go through immigration, where your passport will be stamped for a 30-day visa.
If you are from one of the following countries, then you have an even better deal! You are able to get a 90-day visit visa that is valid for 6 months. Basically, all the countries in the Schengen Zone are eligible for this visa.
Insider's tip: Check out my favorite tours and activities to discover the highlights of Dubai on a stopover! I highly recommend these top-rated tours to make the most of the city even on a short visit:
What if my country is not listed above? How do I get a visa?
Are you still wondering, "Do I need a transit visa for Dubai?". Don't worry, if your country is not on the above lists, you can still purchase a transit visa. I would strongly recommend that you handle this before you go on your trip. Once you are in Dubai, there are no guarantees, and each emirate (kingdom) follows different rules and applies immigration laws in different ways.
The cost for the basic 96-hour transit visa is $70.89. If you are pressed for time, an express option is available, although it will cost you about $20 more. Residents of some countries may also have to pay a hefty, but refundable, security deposit.
Note: If you hold a passport from Afghanistan, Niger, Iraq, Somalia, or Yemen, then you are not eligible for a transit visa. If you hold an Israeli passport, you will be denied entry into the UAE.
For more information, visit VFS.Global, where you can apply for and purchase visas online. If you are on one of the above lists, the smarter option is to simply get the free 30- or 90-day visa on arrival. It's also a good idea to check with your airline, as they often can help with the visa process. Not all airlines offer this service, but Emirates for instance has a handy visa guide you can use. Etihad also has a similar portal.
So, do you need a transit visa for Dubai? Checklist of factors to consider
How long is my layover? - If it is less than 24 hours and you stay in the airport, you probably will not need a visa.
Am I planning on leaving the airport? – If you leave the airport, you will definitely need a visa.
Am I eligible for a free 30-day or 90-day visa? – Check the lists above. If your country of nationality is listed, then you will have no problem. If not, apply for a transit visa or a visit visa online before your trip.
Are you flying soon? Be sure to read our tips for finding cheap flights.
I know from experience that applying for visas can be confusing and a bit stressful. The information I shared in this article should help you find the answer to the question "Do I need a transit visa for Dubai?" according to your travel plans and nationality. I hope that this advice makes the process easier for you, so that you can relax and enjoy your next trip instead of worrying about paperwork.
Have you traveled to or via Dubai? If you have been through this process, I'd love to hear how it went, so feel free to share your experience in a comment below. I look forward to reading it! Be safe and happy travels!